Two-time champion France was rock solid again as it resumed its qualifying campaign for the European Championship with a fifth straight win Thursday, while the Netherlands eased to a 3-0 victory over Greece to keep its chances alive in Group B.
France remained perfect and produced yet another clean sheet, beating Ireland 2-0 in Paris and extending its lead to nine points over both the Netherlands and Greece.
The Dutch defeated their Greek rivals 3-0. Both sides have six points, but Ronald Koeman’s team has played one match fewer than Greece.
France has scored 11 goals so far, conceding none.
“We could have scored a bit more tonight, but I’m not going to be picky,” France coach Didier Deschamps said.
Aurelien Tchouameni and Marcus Thuram netted at the Parc des Princes. The game was played at Paris Saint-Germain’s stadium because of the Rugby World Cup’s opening game scheduled Friday at the Stade de France.
“It’s a big pride,” said Thuram, who scored his first goal for France. “It’s not done yet, we will keep on working.”
Germany will host the 24-team tournament next summer.
In Eindhoven, Denzel Dumfries had three first-half assists for his Dutch teammates Marten de Roon — who scored his first international goal — Cody Gakpo and Wout Weghorst.
The Netherlands plays Ireland in Dublin on Sunday, when Greece faces last-place Gibraltar in Athens.
In trouble after losing two of its opening three games, Poland revived its chances with a brace from Robert Lewandowski in a 2-0 win over the Faeroe Island in Group E. The Czech Republic, still unbeaten, leads the group with eight points, one more than Albania, after they drew 1-1.
Lewandowski took his international tally to 81 goals.
Poland, which has not missed out on qualifying for a European Championship since 2004, is in third place, two points off the pace.
Hungary Tops Group G
Leader Hungary stayed undefeated in its group after a 2-1 win in Serbia, which created chances but wasted a lot.
The hosts could not hold onto their lead following Attila Szalai’s own goal and slumped to their first defeat as Barnabas Varga and Willi Orbán then both scored within two minutes. Second-place Serbia trails three points behind Hungary, which has lost only one of its last 11 matches.
Lithuania and Montenegro drew 2-2 in the group’s other match.
Finland Moves Closer
A late goal from forward Oliver Antman gave Finland a 1-0 win at Kazakhstan in Group H and moved it closer to a second straight qualification to the European Championship.
Antman was perfectly set up in the box in the 78th minute and directed a precise low shot into the back of the net.
Finland, with 12 points from five matches, has a two-point lead over Denmark. The Danes moved into second place by routing winless San Marino 4-0. Slovenia, trailing Denmark only on goal difference, beat Northern Ireland 4-2.
Source: The Associated Press