World Cup 2022 Qualifiers round-up: France ease past Kazakhstan as Germany overcome Romania

Plus: Italy's Andrea Belotti and Manuel Locatelli secure a 2-0 win over Bulgaria and Spain striker Dani Olmo snatches a 2-1 win away to Georgia; Denmark turn on the style as they thrash Moldova 8-0 in their World Cup Qualifier

Kazakhstan 0-2 France 3:26
Highlights of Kazakhstan v France from FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group D

Ousmane Dembele inspired France to a 2-0 victory over Kazakhstan on Sunday in their second match in World Cup qualifying Group D.

Four days after being held 1-1 by Ukraine at the Stade de France, the world champions built their win in the first half with Sergiy Maliy's own goal adding to Dembele's opener before Kylian Mbappe missed a second-half penalty.

France moved top of the standings with four points, ahead of Bosnia, who they face away on Wednesday, Ukraine and Finland, who drew 1-1 on Sunday. Kazakhstan have zero points after playing their first game of the campaign.

Paul Pogba rises to win the ball for France in the World Cup Qualifier
Image: Paul Pogba rises to win the ball for France in the World Cup Qualifier

Only captain Hugo Lloris and Antoine Griezmann remained from the team who started against Ukraine, with the Barcelona forward setting a new record of 45 consecutive starts for Les Bleus.

He beat the previous mark of Patrick Vieira, who started 44 games in a row between 1999 and 2002.

It was Griezmann's club team-mate Dembele who broke the deadlock on 20 minutes with a right-footed shot after being set up by Anthony Martial following a defence-splitting pass from Paul Pogba.

Dembele has just returned to the France side, coming on as a second-half substitute against Ukraine more than two years after his previous cap in November 2018.

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Kylian Mbappe was denied from the penalty spot during the second half
Image: Kylian Mbappe was denied from the penalty spot during the second half

His third international goal from 23 appearances, his first since a 3-1 friendly win against Italy in June, 2018, came as a welcome boost less than two months before coach Didier Deschamps names his squad for this year's European Championship.

Les Bleus doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time when Maliy, who had just denied Martial, headed a cross into his own net.

France were never threatened and had a big opportunity to add a third in the 76th minute, but Mbappe's spot-kick was saved by Aleksandr Mokin.

Wasteful Germany overcome Romania

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Highlights of Romania v Germany from FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group J.

Germany maintained their perfect start in 2022 World Cup qualifying after an early Serge Gnabry goal gave them a 1-0 win over Romania in Group J on Sunday although they missed a string of chances against the home side.

The result left the Germans top of the group on six points from two games ahead of Armenia on goal difference before their next match at home to North Macedonia on Wednesday.

Gnabry scored a 17th-minute winner as he swept the ball home from seven metres after Kai Havertz beat the offside trap on the right flank and squared an inch-perfect pass to the Bayern Munich forward.

Joshua Kimmich rattled the crossbar with a thunderbolt from 30 metres two minutes later and Romania goalkeeper Florin Nita then took centre stage as he made a flurry of saves to deny the 2014 World Cup winners a bigger win.

preview image 2:20
Highlights of Poland v Andorra from FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group I.

The subdued Romanians created very little at the other end but midfielder Nicolae Stanciu missed a gilt-edged chance to snatch a draw for the home side when he hit the side-netting from close range in the 90th minute.

Armenia, who beat Iceland 2-0 earlier on Sunday courtesy of goals from Khoren Bayramyan and Tigran Barseghyan, are at home to Romania on Wednesday while Iceland visit Lichtenstein in the group's other fixture.

Meanwhile, Sweden secured a routine 3-0 win against Kosovo in Pristina with goals from Ludwig Augustinsson, Alexander Isak and a penalty from Sebastian Larsson.

Robert Lewandowski scored twice as Poland also eased to a 3-0 victory over Andorra.

preview image 3:36
Highlights of Kosovo v Sweden from FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group B.

Belotti and Locatelli earn Italy win

preview image 3:22
Highlights of Bulgaria v Italy from FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C.

Italy's Andrea Belotti and Manuel Locatelli secured a 2-0 win over Bulgaria on Sunday to make it two wins from two in Group C at the start of their side's 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Italy struggled to break down the hosts in the first half despite dominating possession but took the lead with a penalty won and converted by Belotti two minutes before the break.

There were few second-half chances but the visitors put the seal on a fifth successive win - without conceding in that run - eight minutes from time thanks to Locatelli's fine finish.

Italy will aim to continue their 100 per cent start on Wednesday when they travel to Lithuania, while Bulgaria, who have now lost their first two matches, visit Northern Ireland next.

Spain scrape win over Georgia

preview image 3:36
Highlights of Georgia vs Spain from FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group B.

Spain striker Dani Olmo snatched a 2-1 win away to Georgia in their World Cup Qualifier on Sunday with a stoppage-time strike from outside the area to kick-start his side's efforts to qualify for Qatar 2022 after a sluggish start.

Georgia thrilled the 15,000 fans in the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena when 20-year-old winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia fired them ahead two minutes before halftime after his side had coasted past a passive visiting defence.

Spain were on course for their first defeat in a World Cup Qualifier in 28 years until Ferran Torres levelled in the 56th, sliding in to send a Jordi Alba cross into the roof of the net after Alvaro Morata had failed to connect with the ball.

Georgia's Khvicha Kvaratskhelia celebrates after scoring the opening goal
Image: Georgia's Khvicha Kvaratskhelia celebrates after scoring the opening goal

Luis Enrique's side pressed for a winner right until the end and finally found one when Olmo let fly from long range and although goalkeeper Giorgi Loria got a hand to the shot it dropped just under the crossbar and into the net.

Georgia's Levan Shengelia was then sent off moments before the final whistle blew to signal a first victory for Spain in Group B after they drew 1-1 at home to Greece last Thursday.

Spain host Kosovo on Wednesday, while Georgia visit Greece.

Ferran Torres levels for Spain against Georgia on Sunday
Image: Ferran Torres levels for Spain against Georgia on Sunday

Meanwhile, Denmark turned on the style as they thrashed hapless Moldova 8-0 in their World Cup Qualifier on Sunday to top Group F, with Kasper Dolberg and Mikkel Damsgaard both scoring twice against the nation ranked 177th in the world.

The Danes went ahead in the 19th minute when Moldova midfielder Catalin Carp pulled down Joachim Andersen and Dolberg sent the penalty low to goalkeeper Stanislav Namasco's right.

Three minutes later they were two goals up when some dreadful Moldovan defending allowed Andreas Skov Olsen to cut in from the right and set up Damsgaard to poke the ball home, and the winger netted his second seven minutes later.

Denmark vs Moldova 3:37
Highlights of Denmark v Moldova from FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group F.

Fullback Jens Stryger Larsen added a fourth, cutting in from the right before curling the ball into the net with his left foot and Mattias Jensen made it 5-0 six minutes before the break.

Dolberg headed his second early in the second half before substitutes Robert Skov and Marcus Ingvartsen rounded off the scoring to leave the Danes top on six points. Moldova have one point from their first two matches.

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