Netherlands defender Nathan Ake scored twice and Memphis Depay also got on the scoresheet as the hosts laboured to a 3-0 home win over 10-man Gibraltar in a Euro 2024 qualifier on Monday.
Depay put the hosts ahead at halftime and Ake’s double came after the break in another unconvincing Dutch performance, this time against one of Europe’s smallest football nations after being thumped in France last week in their first Group B game.
The Dutch had 48 efforts on goal but only 11 on target, showing little of the sharpness coach Ronald Koeman had been looking for in a reaction to their 4-0 loss in Paris on Friday.
France lead the group on six points from two games after beating Ireland 1-0 away, while second-placed Greece, who have only played once, and the Netherlands have three points.
Defender Benjamin Pavard made a spectacular comeback to the French team as his superb second-half strike saw them overcome Ireland.
Pavard, cast aside at last year’s World Cup after a woeful opening game, struck from 18 metres to put his side on six points from two games.
France goalkeeper Mike Maignan, who took over as number one after Hugo Lloris’s international retirement, denied the hosts an equaliser with a stunning save in the last minute, three days after stopping a penalty at the Stade de France.
Elsewhere, substitute Jesper Karlsson scored a brilliant late free kick and Anthony Elanga added a superb solo goal as Sweden hammered Azerbaijan 5-0 in their Group F match.
The win lifts Sweden to third spot in the group on three points, with Austria, who beat Estonia 2-1, top and the Belgians second.
In Group E, Poland striker Karol Swiderski’s goal before the break secured a 1-0 win over Albania to earn their first points, while the Czech Republic laboured to a 0-0 draw against Moldova just three days after they beat Poland in their opening group match.
Hungary crushed Bulgaria 3-0 in Group G and Serbia defeated Montenegro 2-0.
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