Sports

Belgium beat Wales; Netherlands win in Poland

The September internationals are underway and the UEFA Nations League returned on Thursday evening.

No side has yet booked their place in the 2023 finals, nor has any nation been relegated to League B just yet, but there were some big results which impacted the fates of several countries heading into their last matchday on Sunday.

Here’s a roundup of Thursday’s action.

Nations League A, Group 1

Croatia moved to the top of Group 1 with a single game remaining after a late 2-1 win at home to Denmark.

The hosts took the lead just after half time when the ball fell kindly to Borna Sosa following a corner, and his caressed strike evaded a host of defenders and found the far corner.

Christian Eriksen continued his fine early season form with a screamer of his own with under 15 minutes remaining, only for Barcelona-linked Lovro Majer to score almost immediately from the resulting kick-off to give Croatia a win and put them on the bring of next summer’s finals.

France head into the final matchday with their fate in their own hands after an emphatic 2-0 win against Austria.

Didier Deschamps’ men would have been relegated to League B with a loss, but were utterly dominant against Ralf Rangnick’s side.

After somehow not finding the back of the net in the first half, Kylian Mbappe broke the deadlock after the break having dribbled through half the Austria team.

Olivier Giroud headed in Les Bleus’ second soon after to seal a vital three points.

Nations League A, Group 4

Wales came desperately close to snatching an unlikely point against Belgium, but were condemned to defeat in Brussels and are at serious risk of relegation.

Kevin De Bruyne tortured the Dragons in a testing first half, opening the scoring with a perfectly placed first-time effort after 11 minutes.

The Manchester City star then teed up Michy Batshuayi for a tap-in just before the interval to give Rob Page’s men a mountain to climb in the second half.

But hope was not lost for Wales as Brennan Johnson weaved his way through the channel and picked out Kieffer Moore with a teasing cross, and the Bournemouth striker pulled one back for the visitors.

Gareth Bale emerged from the bench and nearly headed Wales level not long after, before Belgium were awarded a penalty when De Bruyne fell under a challenge from Joe Morrell. However, the referee overturned this after a VAR intervention as the Portsmouth midfielder had clearly won the ball.

Johnson came close to firing in a Wales equaliser as stoppage time loomed, while Roberto Martinez was sent off just before the final whistle.

Belgium sit three points behind the Netherlands, while Wales are the same margin off of Poland.

The Netherlands have one foot in next summer’s Nations league finals following an impressive 2-0 victory away at Poland.

Louis van Gaal’s men remain unbeaten in Group 4 heading into the final matchday and looked formidable against a strong Poland side.

Cody Gakpo carried his excellent hot streak at club level onto the international stage when he broke the deadlock after 14 minutes in Warsaw, tapping in from Denzel Dumfries’ cross.

The Oranje were the better team for much of the night and grabbed a deserved second on the hour mark, with Steven Bergwijn playing a clever one-two with Vincent Janssen and beating Wojciech Szczesny to make sure of the points.

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