Matchday six of the Nations League group stages got underway on Sunday evening as we learned of the first teams to qualify for next summer’s finals.
10 fixtures were played out across the competition as the group stage section comes to a close, with storylines being wrapped up and the script edging closer to completion. June’s mini-tournament began to take shape with two sides confirming their place in the final four.
Without further ado, here’s what went on in the biggest fixtures of the evening.
France ended a difficult Nations League campaign as defending champions on a sour note as they were outclassed by Denmark.
A bright start fizzled out and Kasper Dolberg was alive in the box to pounce on a low ball to the near post from Mikkel Damsgaard to fire Denmark ahead. One quickly turned into two as they piled on the pressure from corners, allowing Andreas Skov Olsen to double the lead on the half-volley.
Changes at half-time failed to give Les Bleus the hold on the game they desired, and despite being able to test Kasper Schmeichel on a few occasions through Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, they never looked capable of mounting a comeback.
Didier Deschamps’ side have now won just one of their last four fixtures and need to find their stride ahead of the World Cup, where they meet Denmark again in the group stages.
Croatia headed into their game against Austria knowing a win would secure them a spot in next summer’s finals, regardless of other scores. Luka Modric firing them ahead after just six minutes was the perfect start.
That perfect start came crashing down three minutes later, with Christoph Baumgartner responding by heading in a cross from Marcel Sabitzer for 1-1. The equaliser took the sting out of the visitors, who now sat second in the group and out of the finals as things stood, with Denmark ahead against France.
However, they perked up later on and Marko Livaja headed in with little over to 20 minutes to play, putting them back in the driving seat once again. A quickfire third from Dejan Lovren just three minutes after the second took the wind of out Austria, securing the win and the place in the finals for Croatia.
Louis van Gaal’s side booked their place in the competition’s final four for the second time, having reached the final in the inaugural tournament in 2019.
Belgium were on the front foot early on in the game and had chances to take the lead through Eden Hazard and Michy Batshuayi, but the lack of a clinical edge in front of goal kept proceedings level heading into the break.
A slumbered first half turned into a more energetic second half for the Netherlands, who approached with more aggression and pressed to take the lead. Things became end-to-end and the stalemate could’ve been anyone’s game, but it was Virgil van Dijk’s header in the 73rd minute that was the difference.
That was until the post denied Belgium’s Dodi Lukebakio from a sublime overhead kick effort at the death. The acrobatics meant nothing, though, as the Oranje extended their unbeaten run to 15 games.
Wales suffered relegation to League B thanks to a winning goal from Karol Swiderski, falling to defeat in their final game before the World Cup.
They had their chances, though, particularly in the first half as they cut through Poland’s spells of possession, but couldn’t make it count in front of goal. Daniel James found himself clear through on goal, but spurned the opportunity instead of testing Wojciech Szczesny or putting it on a plate for Brennan Johnson.
A moment of madness in the first half saw Wayne Hennessey almost let a pass from Joe Rodon slip into the back of the net for an own-goal, but both players’ blushes were spared. It summed up Wales’ night though as Poland looked more comfortable and made it count just before the hour mark, with Swiderski dispatching following a smart assist from Robert Lewandowski.
Gareth Bale’s header rattled the woodwork in injury time which denied Rob Page’s side of a late draw, but all focus now goes to Qatar in November.
Turkey’s run of five games unbeaten came to an end as the Faroe Islands got revenge for a 4-0 defeat they suffered in matchday one’s reverse fixture.
Quickfire goals early on in the second half saw the hosts command a 2-0 lead after an hour, leaving group leaders Turkey shell-shocked and in search of a way back into the game.
They couldn’t find it, though, and had to settle for an 89th minute consolation via Serdar Gurler. Defeat is frustrating, but didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things as they still finished top of the group.