Fri, 08 Dec 2023

BERLIN, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Netherlands booked its ticket for the Euro 2024 as Wout Weghorst's early opener was enough to beat Ireland 1-0 while 10-men Romania rallied back from one goal down to edge Israel 2-1 following the 9th matchday of the qualifying round on Saturday.

Ireland got a promising start into the clash as Alan Browne intercepted a misplaced pass before testing goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen with only six minutes played.

The opener was scored at the other end of the pitch though, as Weghorst benefitted from Stefan de Vrij's through ball before drilling the ball from 16 meters into the roof of the net.

The hosts controlled the proceeding but had problems finding a gap in Ireland's well-positioned defense for the remainder of the first half. Ireland's custodian Gavin Bazunu had only to neutralize Tijjani Reijnders' attempt in the dying seconds of the first 45 minutes.

Ronald Koeman's side piled on the pressure after the restart but neither Xavi nor Cody Gakpo was able to beat Bazunu despite presentable chances.

The hosts had another chance to double their advantage in the 53rd minute but Bazunu was again on guard and deflected Reijnders' hammer to the inside of the post.

Ireland thought they had restored parity against the flow of the game but Adam Idah scored from an offside position at the hour mark.

The Elftal remained on the front foot but didn't manage to find a way past Bazunu, who frustrated Reijnders and Gakpo with saves in the closing stages.

With the result, the Netherlands cemented its second spot in Group B and secured a berth for the European Championship next year meanwhile Ireland stayed in the 4th position.

In the other match in Group B, front-runner France showed no mercy with Gibraltar and clinched a 14-0 victory.

Group I leader Romania make sure of qualifying for the Euro 2024 after overpowering Israel 2-1. Second-placed Switzerland qualified as well following a 1-1 draw with resilient Kosovo while Andorra lost 1-0 to Belarus.

In Group D, Croatia moved to the second spot and into sight of the finals after beating Latvia 2-0 and Armenia shared the points with Wales following a 1-1.

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