Euro 2024 qualifying: Mbappé leads France to opening win over Netherlands

<span>Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

Kylian Mbappé’s France captaincy could hardly have started better as the World Cup finalists brushed aside the Netherlands in their Euro 2024 qualifier, winning 4-0 at the Stade de France, with three goals coming in the first 21 minutes.

The opener came after two minutes when Antoine Griezmann, said to be upset at being passed over for the armband, was teed up by Mbappé. Sporting a lurid pink hairstyle, Griezmann celebrated with his new captain to seemingly signal no hard feelings over the issue.

The Bayern Munich centre-back Dayot Upamecano added a second from close range before Mbappé got himself on the scoresheet after 21 minutes, sweeping home from an Aurélien Tchouaméni through-ball.

Mbappé saved the best for last with his sublime second of the night, firing in low from the edge of area after a series of feints and dummies left the Dutch defence bewildered.

The other star of the evening in Friday’s qualifying fixtures was Romelu Lukaku, who scored a hat-trick in Belgium’s impressive 3-0 victory away in Sweden.

The win at the Friends Arena gave the new Belgium coach, Domenico Tedesco, the perfect start as his side seek to bounce back after a disappointing group-stage exit at the Qatar World Cup but, in truth, Janne Andersson’s Sweden posed little threat.

Lukaku broke the deadlock in the 35th minute, outjumping Hjalmar Ekdal to head home a cross from the left by Dodi Lukebakio, who had tormented the Sweden defence from kick-off.

Antoine Griezmann, sporting a new hairstyle, celebrates his goal with Kylian Mbappé
Antoine Griezmann, sporting a new hairstyle, celebrates his goal with Kylian Mbappé. Photograph: Xavier Laine/Getty Images

The Belgium striker then took advantage of more slack marking to double his side’s advantage early in the second half as Lukebakio picked him out again with a low cross which he turned in from close range.

Lukaku’s scoring feats overshadowed Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s much-anticipated return to international football in the opening Group F Euro 2024 qualifier. The introduction of Ibrahimovic in the 73rd minute after a long absence due to injury prompted an ear-splitting roar from the crowd. At 41 years, five months and 21 days, Ibrahimovic breaks the record held by the Italian goalkeeper Dino Zoff since 1983 as the oldest man to play in a European Championship qualifier.

Lukaku finished the game off as the home defence suffered another collective collapse, leaving him with another tap-in to complete his hat-trick and an easy win for the visitors.

Elsewhere, Manchester United’s on-loan midfielder Marcel Sabitzer scored twice for Austria as they secured a comfortable 4-1 home win over Azerbaijan in their opening Group F qualifier.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic applauds the fans after his record-breaking appearance for Sweden
Zlatan Ibrahimovic applauds the fans after his record-breaking appearance for Sweden. Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

Sabitzer collected a pass from Christoph Baumgartner in the box and thrashed the ball into the back of the net for the opener just before the half-hour mark. Austria doubled their advantage a minute later as Michael Gregoritsch scored, before Sabitzer curled a wonderful free-kick into the corner of the net early in the second period.

Azerbaijan pulled a goal back when Emin Makhmudov finished from a tight angle and they briefly threatened a comeback, but Baumgartner got the goal his excellent performance deserved to restore the three-goal advantage for the hosts.

Aleksandar Mitrovic, who is facing a lengthy domestic ban for pushing referee Chris Kavanagh in last Sunday’s FA Cup defeat for Fulham at Manchester United, was picked to start by Serbia in their qualifier with Lithuania. Goals from Dusan Tadic and Dusan Vlahovic gave the Serbs a 2-0 victory.