Football Features

Mbappe the Milestone Merchant: eight things you might have missed from tonight’s Euro 2020 qualifiers

By Ben Green

Published: 21:53, 25 March 2019

It was another dramatic night of Euro 2020 qualifiers across the continent with some shock results and routine wins.  

England followed up their drubbing of the Czech Republic on Friday night with a 5-1 win over Montenegro at the Podgorica City Stadium, while France humbled Iceland 4-0 in the French capital.

Elsewhere Kosovo and Bulgaria shared the spoils with a 1-1 draw in Group A, while Portugal and Serbia also produced a score draw in Lisbon.

Finally Ukraine beat Luxembourg 2-1 in dramatic fashion and Albania dispatched Andorra with a comfortable 3-0 win away from home.

And so, after another riveting night of European action, what eight things might you have missed from tonight’s Euro 2020 qualifiers? Read on to find out…

1. Tadic the tormentor

Dusan Tadic has enjoyed a sensational season in the Dutch capital and that fine form has now been transmitted to the international stage after the fleet-footed forward netted the opening goal against Portugal.

Remarkably the Serbian has now been directly involved in 11 goals across his previous eight matches for both club and country, with the former Southampton man netting eight goals and registering three assists in that time.

His meteoric rise to prominence this campaign has left Saints fans scratching their heads, with no-one on the South Coast envisaging that their ex-mercurial winger would be one of the main catalysts in the Amsterdammers ascent to a Champions League quarter-final.

2. Mbappe the Milestone Merchant 

Kylian Mbappe has reached another watershed moment in his career, tonight becoming the youngest player to accumulate 30 caps for the French national team, at just 20-years-old and three months.

Karim Benzema was the previous holder of that particular record at 22 years and nine months, but the Real Madrid man has now been surpassed by the golden boy of French football.

Fittingly, the PSG talisman marked the occasion with a goal as well as directly contributing towards Les Bleus’ opening and final goal, first setting up Samuel Umtiti in the 12th minute with a scintillating cross before producing a back heel assist of epic proportion for Griezmann’s late finish.

And those three contributions now means Mbappe has been directly involved in 19 goals across his international career, while he is also playing in his 28th consecutive game for the nation – the longest run for a French player since Patrick Vieira enjoyed 44 successive matches between 1999 and 2002.

3. Maiden Moraes

Among the Shakhtar Donetsk contingent starting for the Ukraine national team this evening there was an unfamiliar face donning the Yellow-Blue colours of the Eastern Europe nation: Junior Moraes.

The Brazil-born striker is a Santos alumnus having progressed through the esteemed academy of Peixe, but he has enjoyed a peripatetic odyssey across Eastern Europe since 2009.

And so, fast forward a decade and Moraes has now made his first start for Ukraine having received citizenship by a decree of President Petro Poroshenko earlier this year – he came on as a substitute against Portugal on Friday, but tonight was his first start.

Anyone who has followed Shakhtar extensively in Europe this season will know all about Moraes’ goalscoring prowess and he will provide manager Andriy Shevchenko some much-needed fire power in the final third.

4. Pepe conforms to stereotype

Tadic was again firing on all cylinders, which is perhaps why Pepe felt the only way to prevent him wreaking continual havoc on the Portugal backline was to try and end his match early – he certainly tried his best with this gruesome challenge…

With his studs showing the veteran defender went full hatchet man on the Ajax ace, plunging his left boot into the ankle of Tadic. Incredibly the Porto centre-back was only brandished a yellow card, but fortunately Tadic recovered after some initial fears and stayed on the pitch.

5. Ronaldo pulls up

Cristiano Ronaldo was forced off through injury at the Estadio da Luz after pulling up in only the 31st minute, coming off for Benfica winger Pizzi.

Immediate fears will now preside over Turin with the Old Lady only a couple of weeks away from their Champions League quarter-final clash with Ajax.

The Portuguese superstar pulled up with what appeared to be a hamstring injury after sprinting for th ball on the wing. Massimiliano Allegri will now wait in a fearful anticipation as to the full extent of the injury.

Ronaldo was making just his second appearance for the national team since the 2018 World Cup finals after playing the full 90 minutes in Portugal’s 0-0 draw with Ukraine on Friday.

6. Half century Henderson

Jordan Henderson received his 50th England cap after coming on as a second half substitute at the Podgorica City Stadium against Montenegro.

The Liverpool skipper is yet to open his Three Lions account but has been a reliant and devoted servant for the national team since making his debut in 2010 as a then fledgling Sunderland midfielder.

The 28-year-old is currently the only member of the England squad to earn 50 caps for his country, such is the emerging young talent on the books of the national team, as well as Gareth Southgate’s commendable trust in youth.

Henderson aptly marked the milestone with a stereotypical performance, anchoring the midfield, spraying passes at will, and relentlessly closing down the Montenegro players whenever they had possession.

7. Giroud a France legend

Olivier Giroud has etched his name in French folklore after becoming the nation’s third-highest goalscorer this afternoon, surpassing the achievements of Les Bleus legend David Trezeguet.

The Chelsea outcast may be an unpopular choice in west London but at national level the seasoned striker is seemingly indispensable for manager Didier Deschamps, and he continues to repay the faith shown in him by constantly providing the goods.

At the Stade de France Giroud brought up his 35th goal for his country meaning he now sits in an esteemed top three of Thierry Henry who has 51 goals and Michel Platini who has 41.

8. Gomes gaffe

Andorra goalkeeper Josep Gomes had a moment to forget this evening after his comical clanger gifted Albania’s Armando Sadiku the chance to open the scoring, and the Lugano forward duly took full advantage.

With the match heavily poised in the opening exchanges a lofted ball was hit over in the 21st minute, and what unfolded was simply unforgettable: a hot-headed Gomes came steaming out of his goal before a scissor-kick volley attempt was ludicrously mistimed.

Sadiku simply had an open net to break the deadlock and unfortunately for Gomes things didn’t get much better after Bekim Balaj doubled the scoring in the 87th minute before Amir Abrashi added insult to injury with a third to give Albania maximum reward in Group H.