The Netherlands recovered from Virgil van Dijk conceding an early penalty to beat Ireland 2-1 and overcome a hurdle in its European Championship qualifying campaign.
Van Dijk gave away a penalty for handball at a corner in just the second minute in Dublin and the spot kick was promptly converted by Ireland’s Adam Idah.
Ireland’s physical style seemed to make the Netherlands wary in the early stages but the hosts soon conceded a penalty of their own when goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu tripped Denzel Dumfries, allowing Cody Gakpo to score from the spot.
A strong Dutch start to the second half was rewarded when Wout Weghorst scored in the 56th after Dumfries headed on a ball from deep into his teammate’s path.
The Netherlands and Greece are fighting for the second qualifying spot in Group B behind France, which is top with five wins from five games and didn’t play Sunday. Both the Netherlands and Greece have nine points after Greece beat Gibraltar 5-0 on Sunday, but Greece has played one more game.
POLAND LOSES AGAIN
Poland is in danger of missing out on a European Championship spot for the first time since 2004 following a 2-0 loss to surprise Group E leader Albania.
Goals from Jasir Asani and Mirlind Daku — who scored just seconds after coming off the bench — gave Albania a win to overtake the Czech Republic by two points at the top of the group standings. Poland is fourth after three losses in five games. Albania has only qualified for a major tournament once before, at the 2016 European Championship.
Moldova is also in contention to qualify. It’s level on eight points with the Czech Republic after beating the Faeroe Islands 1-0. Only the top two in each group qualify automatically for the tournament in Germany next year.
DENMARK GOES TOP
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg’s 86th-minute goal gave Denmark a 1-0 win over Finland to take a step toward qualifying. Just one point separates the top four teams in the group.
Denmark dominated the game but couldn’t break through the Finnish defense. With the end of the match in sight, Finland dropped deep into its own penalty area, giving Højbjerg time and space on the edge of the box to line up a powerful, low shot which beat goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky.
Denmark and Slovenia top Group H with 13 points — one point ahead of Finland and surprise contender Kazakhstan, which beat Northern Ireland 1-0. Kazakhstan has never before qualified for a European Championship or World Cup. Slovenia eased past San Marino 4-0.
Montenegro beat Bulgaria 2-1 on a goal from Stevan Jovetić in the seventh minute of added time to put pressure on qualification rivals Hungary and Serbia in Group G. Montenegro played most of the second half with 10 players after a red card for Igor Vujačić.
Hungary and Serbia are level on 10 points at the top of the group after Serbia beat Lithuania 3-1. Montenegro has eight points. Hungary didn’t play Sunday.
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