Benjamin Pavard (#2) of France celebrates with teammate Kylian Mbappe after scoring a goal against Ireland during their Euro 2024 qualifier at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, March 27, 2023. /CFP
France held on to beat Ireland 1-0 in Dublin on Monday to win their second Euro 2024 qualifier, while the Netherlands eased past Gibraltar 3-0.
Right-back Benjamin Pavard pounced with half an hour remaining at a sold-out Aviva Stadium before two superb Mike Maignan saves in the final two minutes.
With 30 seconds to play in Dublin, AC Milan's Maignan, who has succeeded former captain Hugo Lloris as Les Bleus' goalkeeper, tipped over teammate Jules Kounde's panicked header.
From the resulting corner Maignan saved the visitors' skin as he made a similar save from Nathan Collins' powerful effort.
"Mike's stop allowed us to stay in the match and claim a clean sheet, so I'm going to say that he's the man of the match," Bayern Munich's Pavard told French television channel TF1.
"I had the chance to play, it was successful, I scored, even if a defender's main objective is to defend well," he added.
Virgil van Dijk (L) greets teammate Nathan Ake (C) of the Netherlands during their Euro 2024 qualifier with Gibraltar at De Kuip stadium in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, March 27, 2023. /CFP
In Rotterdam, Manchester City center-back Nathan Ake scored twice in a little over half an hour as the Netherlands overcame 10-men Gibraltar, 200th in the FIFA rankings.
Atletico Madrid forward Memphis Depay opened the scoring in the first half with a towering header before veteran Liam Walker was shown a red card the other side of the break.
Dutch captain Virgil van Dijk bemoaned a lack of goals at De Kuip from his team, who lost heavily to France in their Group B opener on Friday.
"You score three goals, but you have to score many more," van Dijk said.
"This is a game where you can hardly ever get it right. You have to win 10-0, so to speak," he added.
Match results of Euro 2024 qualifiers on March 27, 2023
Ireland 0-1 France
Netherlands 3-0 Gibraltar
Serbia 2-0 Montenegro
Poland 1-0 Albania
Austria 2-1 Estonia
Sweden 5-0 Azerbaijan
Moldova 0-0 Czech Republic
Hungary 3-0 Bulgaria
(With input from AFP)
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