Denmark upset France; Netherlands and Croatia win in Nations League


Berlin, Sep 26 : World champions France lost 2-0 to Denmark, while the Netherlands and Croatia claimed victories over Belgium and Austria to secure UEFA Nations League semifinal spots. France showed themselves to be out of shape just under two months before the 2022 FIFA World Cup, where Les Bleus will meet Denmark again in Group D. Kasper Dolberg and Andreas Skov Olsen scored two goals in the first half as hosts Denmark deserved their victory, reports Xinhua. After the defeat, France sit behind Croatia and Denmark with only five points in Group 1 of League A. Austria were relegated to League B after their 3-1 loss to Croatia. Real Madrid's Luka Modric put the Croatians ahead in Vienna after just six minutes. Christoph Baumgartner of Hoffenheim equalised three minutes later, but in the second half, strikes from Marko Livaja and Dejan Lovren sealed the win for Croatia. In Group 4, Louis van Gaal's Netherlands secured first place with a 1-0 win over Belgium thanks to Virgil van Dijk's 73rd-minute goal. Without injured key players Frenkie de Jong and Memphis Depay, Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal had to search for an alternative line-up which saw Marten de Roon (Atalanta) and Vincent Janssen (Antwerp) replace the FC Barcelona duo. This resulted in a tight match against Belgium, who had been beaten by their Dutch neighbours 4-1 in Brussels in June. Captain Virgil van Dijk headed in a Cody Gakpo corner in the 73rd minute, a few minutes after 38-year-old Dutch goalkeeper Remko Pasveer of Ajax, who debuted last Thursday in a 2-0 win against Poland in Warsaw, made a terrific save from an attempt by Amadou Onana. The win means the Netherlands end on 16 points from six matches in Group 4 of the highest level of the Nations League, and qualify for the final four next year in the Netherlands. Belgium finished second in the group with 10 points. For both teams, the match was also their last test before the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which starts on November 20 in Qatar. Wales will play in League B in the upcoming Nations League season after a 1-0 defeat against Poland. /IANS


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