Sunday , June 16 2024

Friendlies: France top Netherlands; Ronaldo penalty miss in loss; Rep. of Ireland win

Netherlands were beaten 3-2 by France thanks to a late Blaise Matuidi goal on an emotional night in Amsterdam.

Tributes were paid before and during the friendly international with France to the legendary former Netherlands and Ajax star Johan Cruyff, who died on Thursday.

Matuidi struck three minutes from full-time to secure a 3-2 win for France, moments after Netherlands had come from two goals down to level.

The referee stopped play to signal a minute’s applause in the 14th minute, representing the iconic number worn by Cruyff for Netherlands. However, by then the hosts were already 2-0 down through goals from Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud.

Griezmann hit an unstoppable free-kick from the edge of the area to open the scoring after only six minutes. And seven minutes later Netherlands cleared a corner only as far as Matuidi who nodded the ball back into the box for Giroud to volley home.

Luuk de Jong halved the defecit when he glanced in a cross from Memphis Depay. Dimitri Payet then hit a post for France before Netherlands levelled through Ibrahim Afellay, who was left unmarked from Depay’s short corner.

But the home fans were still celebrating when Anthony Martial played in Matuidi to hit the winner.

Cristiano Ronaldo had his penalty kick saved in Friday’s loss to Bulgaria.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a penalty saved as Portugal fell 1-0 to Bulgaria on an unorthodox goal from midfielder Marcelinho.

In the 19th minute, the former Brazil Under-20 international collected a lobbed Ivelin Popov pass before converting a stumbling finish after seeing the ball improbably squirm between Pepe’s legs.

Ronaldo had a chance to equalise from the spot in the 67th minute, however his powerful hit was well saved by Vladislav Stojanov, and the Portugal captain’s second, falling attempt off the rebound went wide.

Ciaran Clark’s early header ensured the Republic of Ireland‘s preparations for the Euro 2016 finals began with a 1-0 victory as Switzerland fell by the wayside in Dublin.

Clark, who is struggling to get a game for Premier League basement boys Aston Villa, struck with a second-minute header to double his international tally and send a Good Friday crowd of 35,450 home from the Aviva Stadium with smiles on their faces.

On a night when manager Martin O’Neill — who this week landed himself in hot water over his comments about WAGs — handed senior debuts to Alan Judge, Eunan O’Kane and Jonny Hayes, it was not always pretty, but ultimately proved effective as his side extended their run to one defeat in seven games this season.

Slovakia and Latvia finished their international friendly as a 0-0 draw, with neither team able to get on the score sheet.

Meanwhile, Bosnia and Herzegovina used a late 20-minute flurry of goals to overcome a resolute Luxembourg side 3-0 in Luxembourg City.

The game was scoreless until the 73 minute when a Maxine Chanot own goal opened the floodgates for the visitors, who tacked on another through Milan Djuric two minutes later and completed the scoring in second-half stoppage time with a Miralem Pjanic strike.

Slovakia couldn’t find a way to beat Latvia in a goalless draw, while Belarus‘ friendly at Armenia also finished 0-0.

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