Netherlands 1-2 France: Mbappé’s class sinks injury-hit Oranje

Kylian Mbappé shoots over the outstretched leg of Mats Wieffer as he scores France's second goal. Photo: ANP/Maurice van Steen

A makeshift Oranje side were unable to stop France securing qualification for Euro 2024 with a clinical display in Amsterdam.

Kylian Mbappé struck early in both halves to leave the Dutch needing to win in Greece on Monday night to maintain their hopes of taking the second qualifying spot.

Quilindschy Hartman, one of several new faces for the Netherlands, breathed hope into the Dutch cause with a smartly taken late goal, but it was a game Ronald Koeman’s side were always chasing.

Captain Virgil van Dijk was frustrated at the outcome. “We fought, played good football in places and created chances, but it hurts to lose because I felt like there was more for us in this game,” he told NOS.

Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt, Memphis Depay and Teun Koopmeiners were among the players unavailable for the crucial Group B game in Amsterdam.

Koeman gave debuts to Brighton goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen, after Mark Flekken had to withdraw through illness, and Feyenoord midfielder Hartman.

Joey Veerman and AC Milan’s Tijjani Reijnders also featured in the starting line-up for the first time, while Wout Weghorst and Xavi Simons led the attack.

Early strike

France went ahead with their first real attack after seven minutes. Kingsley Coman wriggled into the penalty area before finding Antoine Griezemann lurking just outside. The midfielder picked out Jonathan Clauss on the right, whose hanging cross was volleyed in from close range by Mbappé.

The Dutch struggled to get into the game as France kept the tempo low and starved the home side of possession. It took nearly half an hour for Oranje to fashion a serious chance, as first Veerman and then Simons shot over the bar from good positions.

Simons drew the first real save from Mike Maignan when he pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the area and fired low towards the corner, but the goalkeeper was able to push it behind.

Just before half-time there was another injury setback when Weghorst was replaced by Donyell Malen after succumbing to knee problems.

Hartman shines

Mbappé’s second goal seven minutes into the second half was a gem. The forward accelerated away from the left-hand touchline, exchanged the deftest of touches with Adrien Rabiot and curled a first-time shot into the top corner that Verbruggen could only flap at.

A minute later the Dutch had the ball in the net when Malen smashed in a cross from Nathan Aké, but the defender strayed a fraction offside as he collected the ball from deep.

France looked comfortable defending their two-goal lead until eight minutes from the end, when Hartman crowned an industrious debut with a fine goal. The midfielder swapped passes with substitute Steven Bergwijn on the left before squeezing a shot inside Maignan’s right-hand post.

And with time running out the two players combined again as Bergwijn came within inches of connecting with Hartman’s diagonal ball right in front of Maignan’s goal.

Greece beat Ireland 2-0 in Dublin in the other Group B game to open up a three-point gap on the Netherlands, who have played a game less.

The two sides meet in Athens on Monday before Greece finish their campaign with a home match against France, while the Dutch still have to play Ireland at home and Gibraltar away.

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