New England call-up Khiara Keating is well aware that one day she could make history as the first keeper from an ethnic minority background to play in goal for the Lionesses.

Keating is just 19 but her spectacular start to the season for Manchester City has caught the eye of England boss Sarina Wiegman, who named her in the squad who will face Belgium in two Nations League fixtures this month.

It may be some time before Keating – one of four keepers in a camp that includes England number one and FIFA Best award-winner Mary Earps – gets playing time, but she is already embracing her rapid rise to role model status.

She said: “Obviously I think it’s important for anyone to make their debut but obviously coming from a background of colour, there’s not many of us. I think we are starting to see a rise and I’m just happy that I could be an inspiration.

“Obviously anyone out there that’s thinking ‘maybe I will get judged’ or ‘maybe it’s not for me’, but yeah, I feel like I’m just grateful to be in a position where I can be a role model to people.”

Keating’s invitation, alongside fellow maiden call-up Grace Clinton, came during a week Arsenal came under criticism on social media after posting a photo of their squad consisting entirely of white women.

The club have since issued a statement acknowledging the lack of diversity in the first team and ambitions for that to change as a ‘key priority’ from the academy level and upwards.

Becky Spencer made history in 2014 when she became the first goalkeeper from an ethnic minority background called up to the Lionesses under Mark Sampson, but did not feature in a match before switching allegiances to Jamaica.

On the men’s side, David James is the only black goalkeeper to have represented England at senior level, while Shaka Hislop, who would later play for Trinidad and Tobago, was also called up for England.

Keating has started all three of Women’s Super League (WSL) leaders Manchester City’s matches to open the season, winning two clean sheets and conceding just one goal in a controversial 1-1 draw with Chelsea that saw two of her team-mates sent off.

She was driving when Wiegman first rang her with the good news, and it was only when she saw the England boss’ picture pop up on her phone that she realised she had potentially let a potentially life-changing chat go to voicemail.

“I thought maybe I should call her back to see what she wants!” joked Keating. “She delivered the great news and then I was just buzzing.

“[Training with Earps], she’s proven to everyone over this past year that she is so good and the best in the world and she can achieve anything. Obviously it is a bit surreal that I am here with her.

“I feel like it only became real yesterday when I was in the team meeting and obviously Sarina introduced us to everyone, seeing it first-hand.

“I feel like that was a pinch-me moment, where it was like ‘wow, Grace, we’re actually here’.”

England, Scotland, Spain, France, Portugal, Turkey, Belgium and Austria all secured their places at Euro 2024 in the latest round of qualifying fixtures.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at what still to be resolved in November and the play-offs.

Group A

Scotland and Spain have both qualified for the finals, but top spot remains up for grabs.

Spain head to Cyprus and then host Georgia, while Scotland face a trip to Tbilisi before welcoming Norway to Hampden Park – where the Tartan Army are expected to revel in a Euro 2024 qualification party.

Georgia are set to go into the play-offs based on their Nations League ranking as a group winner.

Norway are one of several countries who will have to wait on all the other results to see if they can make the cut as one of 12 teams split through three paths.

Group B

While France have qualified automatically for the finals as group winners, the Netherlands still have work to do.

The Dutch edged past Greece with a stoppage-time penalty from captain Virgil van Dijk on Monday night – and victory over the Republic of Ireland in Amsterdam will secure a top-two finish.

Greece, though, could also still reach Euro 2024, having already been assured of a place in the play-offs.

Indeed because of UEFA’s complex weighted system based on overall Nations League rankings, the Republic are still not theoretically out of the running to be involved in the play-offs in March – and could even see their slim hopes boosted by a loss in Amsterdam on November 18 if other results also fall into place.

Group C

England’s 3-1 win over Italy at Wembley on Tuesday night saw them qualify with two matches left.

Italy are third, but qualification remains in their own hands if they can beat North Macedonia.

The Azzurri would then edge out Ukraine to the runners-up spot should they go on to avoid defeat in the final group game between the two countries in Leverkusen on November 20.

Italy are also assured of place in the play-offs should it be needed.

Group D

Turkey have secured qualification, but the race to join them looks set to go to the wire.

Wales will if they beat Armenia in Yerevan and Croatia suffer an unexpected defeat away to Latvia.

Armenia, though, are still not out of the mix, sitting just three points behind Wales and Croatia with two games left.

Qualification could all hinge on the very last round of fixtures – which sees Wales host Turkey in Cardiff and Croatia play Armenia in Zagreb on November 21.

However, Croatia are assured of at least a play-off spot if they do not qualify automatically.

Group E

In another tight group, leaders Albania, the Czech Republic, Poland and even Moldova can all still qualify.

Albania will qualify if they avoid defeat by Moldova in their next match or if Poland – currently third and with just one game left – beat the Czechs.

An away win in Warsaw, though, would see the Czech Republic qualify if Moldova do not beat Albania.

Moldova have two games left, which they realistically would need to win to keep in the qualification mix.

Despite being bottom of the table with just one point from seven games, the Faroe Islands could yet find themselves in the play-offs depending on other results.

Group F

Austria and group leaders Belgium have both qualified.

Belgium’s game against Sweden at the King Baudouin Stadium on Monday night was abandoned at half-time after two people were shot dead in Brussels. It has yet to be confirmed whether the fixture will be replayed.

Azerbaijan are not theoretically out of play-off contention, while bottom side Estonia are the top-ranked team from Nations League Group D.

Group G

Leaders Hungary – who have Barnsley midfielder Callum Styles in the squad – missed the chance to qualify after having to recover to draw 2-2 in Lithuania.

However, a point in their next match away to Bulgaria would see them through, as would Montenegro not beating Lithuania.

Second-placed Serbia will qualify if Montenegro fail to win on November 16 or they themselves beat Bulgaria in their last game.

Bottom side Bulgaria have slim play-off hopes, but Serbia are secured a spot if they need it as one of the Nations League group winners.

Group H

Slovenia, who beat Northern Ireland in Belfast on Tuesday night, and Denmark are in the driving seat to qualify, sitting four points clear of Kazakhstan.

A win in Copenhagen for either team on November 17 would see them through, as would San Marino getting an unlikely positive result against Kazakhstan.

Finland will go into the play-offs, which is also the likely route for Kazakhstan.

Group I

Switzerland’s fightback with two late goals to draw 3-3 against Belarus left them second in the table, a point behind leaders Romania having played a game less.

Israel – assured of at least a play-off spot – are four points adrift, and have their rearranged match with the Swiss on November 15.

Switzerland will qualify if they win their next two fixtures, while Romania will if the Swiss lose in Tel Aviv and they themselves then beat Israel on November 18.

Romania are set to host Switzerland in the final round of fixtures, while Israel’s postponed match against Kosovo has still to be rescheduled.

Group J

 

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Portugal qualified for the finals as runaway group winners with a 100 per cent record so far through eight games.

Slovakia will also qualify with a match to spare if they avoid defeat against Iceland.

Luxembourg are five points behind, so look likely to go into the play-offs along with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Sweden defender Victor Lindelof has said he was “lost for words for the cruelty and inhumanity” after two fans were shot dead before Monday evening’s Euro 2024 qualifier in Belgium.

The match in Brussels was abandoned at half-time with the score at 1-1 after two Swedish supporters were killed and another injured three miles from the King Baudouin Stadium.

The gunman, reported to be a 45-year-old Tunisian national, was shot dead by police in a Brussels suburb on Tuesday morning.

 

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Manchester United centre-half Lindelof said on Instagram: “I’m shocked and devastated by the terrible incidents in Brussels with the cold-hearted attacks on our fellow Swedes.

“I’m lost for words for the cruelty and inhumanity, I want to send my deepest condolences to the families and friends of those affected.

“At the same time, my thoughts go out to all the supporters in Belgium last night, no one should ever go to a game of football and feel unsafe when supporting their team.”

The Swedish Football Association on Monday evening urged supporters to stay in the stadium on police advice “for security reasons” and co-operate with the authorities on site.

 

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Fans were kept in the stadium for more than two hours before a message on the stadium screen asked them to leave “calmly”.

The Sweden men’s national team posted on Instagram on Tuesday: “Swedish football has sadness – Sweden has sadness.

“Yesterday we tragically lost two blue-yellow supporters, on the spot in Brussels to do something that should be obvious – to support our Swedish national teams wearing the blue-yellow national team shirt.

“Our thoughts go out to all loved ones of the victims, who today are forced to wake up to an indescribable sadness.

 

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“We are also thinking of all your supporters on site in Brussels. We know that you, like us, were afraid and worried. Yet you remained calm and followed the instructions that were called out from the speakers.

“We will never forget those who fell victims of this senseless attack. Take care of each other.”

Tottenham midfielder Dejan Kulusevski linked to the team statement in his Instagram Stories, alongside a broken heart emoji.

The Belgium team said on social media: “We are still devastated by what happened in our capital on Monday.

“We want to thank all the fans and stewards in the stadium for their understanding and support in these difficult circumstances.

“Our thoughts are with the Swedish, we hope everyone gets home safely.”

Sweden manager Janne Andersson said the players had asked for the game to be abandoned when they heard about the shooting.

“I felt it was completely unreal,” he told a press conference. “What kind of world do we live in today? I was supposed to have a good chat with the players but I heard it and almost started crying.

“When the team started talking, we agreed 100 per cent that we didn’t want to play on out of respect for the victims and their families.”

UEFA said “a moment of silence” would be observed at all Tuesday night’s Euro 2024 qualifiers in memory of the victims.

Kylian Mbappe scored twice, including a stunning strike from just outside the box, as France beat the Netherlands 2-0 in Amsterdam to secure Euro 2024 qualification.

After putting Les Bleus ahead with a seventh-minute finish, Mbappe added a breathtaking second eight minutes into the second half, exchanging passes with Adrien Rabiot and sending a curling shot over Bart Verbruggen and into the top corner.

Quilindschy Hartman reduced the deficit with seven minutes of normal time remaining.

The result extended France’s perfect record in Group B to a sixth victory as they rubber-stamped their place in next summer’s finals in Germany with two fixtures to spare.

Their opponents dropped from second to third, replaced by Greece – who won 2-0 against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin.

Georgios Giakoumakis and Georgios Masouras scored in the first half as Ireland’s chances of automatic qualification officially came to an end.

Greece are now three points clear of the Netherlands, who have a game in hand.

In Group F, Belgium sealed progress to the finals with a 3-2 win away against second-placed Austria.

The visitors appeared to be cruising after Dodi Lukebakio’s double and a Romelu Lukaku effort had them three goals up before the hour mark.

Things then became less comfortable as Konrad Laimer pulled a goal back in the 72nd minute, Belgium were reduced to 10 men by a red card for Amadou Onana six minutes later, and Marcel Sabitzer scored an 84th-minute penalty – but Domenico Tedesco’s side managed to see out the win.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan registered their first win in the group as they beat Estonia 2-0 in Tallinn.

Portugal also completed the job of qualification via a 3-2 victory as they defeated Slovakia in Porto, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring twice.

Goncalo Ramos and a Ronaldo penalty had the hosts two goals up at half-time, and after David Hancko’s reply, Ronaldo made it 3-1 in the 72nd minute with his 125th international goal.

Stanislav Lobotka netted a second for Slovakia, who are second behind Portugal in Group J.

Friday’s other matches in the pool saw Iceland and Luxembourg draw 1-1 in Reykjavik and Bosnia and Herzegovina win 2-0 in Liechtenstein.

Former Chelsea winger Eden Hazard has announced his retirement at the age of 32.

Hazard won two Premier League titles at Stamford Bridge before moving to Real Madrid in 2019.

But the Belgian struggled with injuries and made just 76 appearances in four seasons at Real before leaving in the summer.

“You must listen to yourself and say stop at the right time,” he wrote on Instagram.


“After 16 years and more than 700 matches played, I have decided to end my career as a professional footballer.

“I was able to realise my dream, I have played and had fun on many pitches around the world.

“During my career I was lucky to meet great managers, coaches and team-mates – thank you to everyone for these great times, I will miss you all.

“I also want to thank the clubs I have played for: LOSC, Chelsea and Real Madrid; and thank the RBFA for my Belgian selection.

“A special thank you to my family, my friends, my advisers and the people who have been close to me in good times and bad.

“Finally, a huge thank you to you, my fans, who have followed me for all these years and for your encouragement everywhere I have played.

“Now is the time to enjoy my loved ones and have new experiences.
See you off the field soon my friends.”

Hazard scored 110 goals in 352 appearances for Chelsea after joining from Lille in 2012.

She is not only a bright prospect in her field, but Barbadian gymnast Olivia “Storm” Kelly, is also honing her skills as a budding philanthropist, as she reignited efforts to assist, and, by extension, ease the financial burdens of students and teachers in need, for the new school year.

Through a Back-to-School drive, Kelly uses her Social Media platforms to seek donations of stationery items and other office supplies for teachers in particular, who often have to dig deep into their pockets to acquire said items.

The American-born Kelly, who earns her Barbadian stripes through her father, Tori, pointed out that her zeal for helping others is spurred by her own appreciation for life’s experiences.

“Honestly, I’m not even sure when I first started volunteering. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been helping collect or giving toys, school supplies, clothes and more to people in need. I like how volunteering brings people together and keeps us humble and that is basically my motivation, just being grateful for where I am at,” Kelly told Sportsmax.tv. 

“Whenever I am collecting supplies, toys, food, clothes, or whatever I’m doing, my gym, my mom’s work, and my friends and family are always so supportive. They always donate and ask if I need anything. People always have no problem donating things, especially if they don’t have time to volunteer.

“It’s a good way for everyone to give back. Everyone doesn’t have the same resources, but most people are willing to give back in one way or another. I’m always looking to do a little more and trying to reach more people,” she added.

While the initiative is focused mostly on the United States, the 17-year-old has in the past extended a helping hand to Barbados and revealed that she is hoping to do more at some point.

“I’m always trying to bring my help into Barbados. It’s not cheap to get supplies over there. I have donated leotards to Flip Gym, went in and offered lessons to the gymnasts there and most recently posted and donated to a charity organization called Build up Bim,” she shared.

“I would definitely like to keep doing this, maybe even finding more time to actually go out and volunteer. I can’t talk about it yet, but I do have something in the works with a teammate of mine to help athletes who lack resources,” Kelly revealed.

The soft-spoken gymnast, who has her eyes set on becoming the first gymnast to represent the Eastern Caribbean Island at the Olympic Games, and, if successful, it would propel her career to higher heights.

Achieving such a dream is by no means impossible and Kelly, also known as "Storm," in gymnastics circles, is well positioned herself to make it happen when she takes the World Gymnastics Championships stage in Antwerp, Belgium, next month.

The event serves an Olympic qualifier and, as such, Kelly, despite her voluntary efforts outside of the gym, is focused on ensuring her performance quality and the details of her routine are on point, while staying physically and mentally healthy.

“Fortunately, volunteering never takes away any time or affect my training in any way. I’m able to work around my training and my family is a huge help in making it happen,” she declared.

“I had to take a few weeks off after PanAm for my back. I have Scoliosis and every so often I get to a point where my back needs some rest. I’m in the gym now adding things slowly and listening to my body and I am fortunate to have great doctors and coaches to help me through.

“Being back in the gym is going really well. I definitely feel like I’m in a better mental and physical space this year, and I feel much more confident going into this Worlds. I have much more experience this year as well, which definitely helps, so I’m very excited to compete in Belgium this year and give the 2024 Olympics a shot,” Kelly ended.

Max Verstappen will start on pole position for Saturday’s sprint race after beating McLaren’s Oscar Piastri to top spot by just 0.011 seconds.

Verstappen qualified fastest here on Friday for Sunday’s Grand Prix, but he will line up in sixth after serving a grid penalty for a gearbox change.

But for the 15-lap dash in the Ardennes, the Red Bull driver begins from the front after edging out the impressive Piastri in wet-dry conditions at Spa-Francorchamps.

Carlos Sainz finished third, just 0.025sec adrift of Verstappen, with Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc fourth.

Lando Norris took fifth for McLaren, while Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, who appeared to trip over one another in the closing moments, only seventh and 10th respectively for Mercedes.

“It was difficult, but we stayed calm,” said Verstappen. “The gap to second was not as big as yesterday, but there was no need to risk it all.

“My second sector was a bit careful – turns eight and nine were very slippery so I left a bit of time on the table – but I am still on pole and that is what counts.

“Let’s see if it rains in the afternoon. I will try to have a clean start and have good vision and that is very important when it is wet.”

The start of qualifying was delayed following heavy rainfall in the area, but the sun suddenly broke through allowing the action to get under way 35 minutes later than advertised.

The final running took place on an almost dry track and the times tumbled as grip improved and the clock ticked down.

Rookie Piastri, 22, looked to have done enough to take the spoils when he crossed the line fastest, only for Verstappen to steal his thunder

“There wasn’t much left in that lap,” said Piastri over the radio. “Probably 11 milliseconds.”

Verstappen is on course to gallop to his third world championship in as many years and the Dutch driver will be expected to extend his 110-point lead over team-mate Sergio Perez later on Saturday, with the Mexican only eighth on the grid.

Eight points are awarded for the winner of the 15-lap dash, with a sliding scale down to to eighth place.

The result of Saturday’s sprint, which could take place in the wet with more rain forecast, has no bearing on Sunday’s 44-lap main event.

Lance Stroll’s gamble to switch from wet rubber to slicks with a couple minutes of Q2 remaining backfired as he crashed out.

The Canadian driver lost control of his Aston Martin through the left-hand ninth corner, skidding through the gravel and into the tyre barrier.

The front of Stroll’s machine was heavily damaged in the accident and the running was suspended.

His crash meant team-mate Fernando Alonso, who turned 42 on Saturday, did not post a time, leaving him a disappointing 15th on the grid.

Saturday’s race is due to get under way at 5:05pm local time (4:05pm BST).

Max Verstappen vowed to kiss and make up with his race engineer following their X-rated row in Belgian Grand Prix qualifying.

Verstappen finished fastest in a wet-dry session at Spa-Francorchamps, but he will start Sunday’s 44-lap race from sixth following a gearbox penalty.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is promoted to pole position, with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez second. Lewis Hamilton, on pole a week ago in Hungary, will line up in third.

Verstappen made it into Q3 – the final phase of qualifying – by the skin of his teeth and vented his anger at long-serving race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase, known as GP, following the close-call.

“I should have just f****** pushed two laps in a row like I said,” said Verstappen, who sneaked through in 10th place.

“But you are through, Max,” replied Lambiase.

“I don’t give a f*** that we are P10, mate. It is just s*** execution,” came Verstappen’s fiery response.

Lambiase snapped back: “OK, and then when the track was two seconds quicker for your final lap and you didn’t have any energy left, how would that have gone down?”

A surly Lambiase added: “But you tell me what you want to do in Q3 and we’ll do it. Tyre sets, fuel, run plan.”

After returning to finish eighth tenths clear of Leclerc, Verstappen issued an apology.

“Sorry to GP for being such on the rant,” he said over the radio.

Lambiase replied: “Slowly getting used to it, Max.”

Speaking afterwards, Verstappen added: “It happens sometimes. Most of it is blocked off.

“We are mates. We can get quite emotional, quite vocal. We sort it out afterwards.”

Verstappen’s grid drop for exceeding the allocated number of four gearboxes will provide his rivals with forlorn hope they can end his seven-race winning streak.

However, the Dutchman, a winner of nine of the 11 rounds so far this season, started this race from 14th last year owing to engine penalties and still took the victory in his all-conquering Red Bull machine.

For Hamilton, the seven-time world champion faced a post-qualifying investigation from the stewards after he ran off the circuit at Eau Rouge before re-joining in front of team-mate George Russell in Q2.

Russell was forced to slow down to avoid making contact with the sister Mercedes. Race control noted the incident and confirmed they would investigate.

Hamilton finished nine tenths slower than Verstappen, with Russell even further back in eighth, 0.8sec adrift of his team-mate.

“It was definitely very hectic because it was consistently drying up,” said Hamilton after the running started on a wet track.

“It was difficult to see with the spray. I was head down, just maximining as much as I could.

“At the end, I was still a good chunk off Max. But I am really happy with the result I’ve got.”

Carlos Sainz qualified fifth for Ferrari, one spot ahead of Oscar Piastri, with Lando Norris seventh in the other McLaren.

Daniel Ricciardo finished a commendable 13th on his F1 comeback but the Australian will line up from the penultimate spot on the grid.

Ricciardo temporarily hauled his AlphaTauri through to Q2 only to see his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits.

“F***, I am sorry,” said Ricciardo when informed of the chalked-off lap. “I just lost it through Turn 3. I am sorry.”

Spa-Francorchamps is hosting the sport’s third sprint event of the year with a shortened race on Saturday to come before Sunday’s main event – the concluding round ahead of the sport’s summer shutdown.

Max Verstappen took pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix despite an X-rated radio row with his race engineer.

Verstappen was embroiled in a squabble with Gianpiero Lambiase after he only just made it through to Q3 during a wet-dry session at Spa-Francorchamps.

But the championship leader regained his composure at the business end of qualifying to demolish the opposition, finishing eight tenths clear of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc with Sergio Perez third in the other Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton qualified fourth.

However, Verstappen will only start Sunday’s race from sixth position as he serves a five-place grid drop for exceeding his gearbox allocation.

Verstappen made it into the final phase by the skin of his teeth in 10th place and then vented his anger at his long-serving engineer.

Verstappen accused his team of “s*** execution”, claiming he should have pushed harder on an earlier lap after the field switched from wet to dry rubber.

“I don’t give a f*** that we are P10, mate”, he yelled over the radio.

Lambiase snapped back: “OK, and then when the track was two seconds quicker for your final lap and you didn’t have any energy left, how would that have gone down?”

A surly Lambiase added: “But you tell me what you want to do in Q3 and we’ll do it. Tyre sets, fuel, run plan.”

But after taking pole, Verstappen, 110 points clear at the standings and on a run of seven-consecutive wins in his all-conquering Red Bull machine, said over the radio: “Sorry to GP for being such on the rant.”

Lambiase replied: “Slowly getting used to it, Max.”

Hamilton secured pole a week ago in Hungary, but he is facing an investigation from the stewards after he ran off the circuit at Eau Rouge before re-joining in front of team-mate George Russell in Q2.

Russell was forced to slow down to avoid making contact with the sister Mercedes. Race control noted the incident before confirming they would investigate.

It was an underwhelming afternoon for the Silver Arrows with Hamilton nine tenths slower than Verstappen, and Russell ever further back in eighth, 0.8sec adrift of his team-mate. Lando Norris finished seventh, a spot behind Oscar Piastri in the other McLaren.

Daniel Ricciardo qualified a commendable 13th on his return a week ago, but the Australia will line up from the penultimate spot on the grid on Sunday.

Ricciardo temporarily hauled his AlphaTauri through to Q2 only to see his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits.

“F***, I am sorry,” said Ricciardo when informed of the bad news. “I just lost it through Turn 3. I am sorry.”

Kim Huybrechts and Dimitri Van den Bergh put their differences aside to send Belgium through to the second round of the World Cup of Darts in Frankfurt.

The duo won their opening match against Finland on Thursday night but cracks in their relationship showed immediately afterwards, with Huybrechts admitting he does not “get along with” Van den Bergh, who also said there was “something personal” between them.

But, in an attempt to avoid a civil war in the PDC competition, they put on a united front ahead of Friday night’s match with China.

They said in a joint statement on Twitter: “Following last night’s win at the World Cup of Darts, we have sat down to discuss our recent differences.

“Whilst some issues remain to be resolved in the fullness of time, we are both fully committed to doing our best as a team to win the World Cup of Darts for Belgium, and to represent ourselves, our families and our country in the best light.

“That begins with tonight’s game against China and our focus is now on preparing for the match as a team.”

Harmony was needed in a close match, with Van den Bergh producing an under-pressure 86 checkout in the deciding leg to clinch a 4-3 victory.

Defending champions Australia are yet to drop a leg and they eased to a 4-0 win over Gibraltar, while Croatia claimed a 4-1 upset victory over the Republic of Ireland.

Hosts Germany are safely through, beating Japan 4-0, and Poland set a new record average of 118.1 in their 4-1 success against Lithuania.

Elsewhere, there were victories for France, South Africa, Canada, Latvia, Sweden and the Philippines, while Denmark lost to the USA but still go through.

Dietmar Hamann worries it is "too late" for this Germany team as he called again for coach Hansi Flick to be sacked following Tuesday's defeat to Belgium.

Hamann was a vocal critic of Flick following the 2022 World Cup, where Germany exited at the group stage for the second consecutive finals.

Former midfielder Hamann wanted the coach to go then, and his stance was not softened by the March internationals.

With Germany hosting Euro 2024 and therefore absent from the qualification process, they played friendlies against Peru and Belgium.

A 2-0 win over Peru in Mainz was followed by a 3-2 defeat to Belgium in Cologne, in which Hamann suggested "it could have been 0-3, 0-4 or 1-5 in the first half".

Speaking to Sky Sport, the pundit said: "Nothing has changed at all.

"The team that started yesterday included eight World Cup players. [Florian] Wirtz and [Timo] Werner were also in the starting line-up, who were not there in Qatar due to injury.

"Marius Wolf was the only one who played against Belgium who wasn't at the World Cup. He did an excellent job in Dortmund in the last few weeks and months.

"So, it felt like there were 10 World Cup players in the line-up, and then I can't speak of a change.

"If [Flick] had let youngsters play and they had gotten under the wheels in the first half, then I would have understood because they would have learned something from it.

"But the way it was yesterday, that they play with the same players and we get served the same c*** as at the World Cup, sooner or later people will turn their backs on the national team."

Hamann felt that performance backed up his argument following a World Cup exit he had described as "pathetic".

"It's too late for me," he said. "I spoke after the World Cup, where it was clear to me that it's difficult to continue working with the coach when you're eliminated from the group for the second time in a row.

"I couldn't imagine it because you need a new impetus.

"They hid in Qatar, they let the team down, they didn't take responsibility. And if the coach doesn't take responsibility, then I can't expect the players to take responsibility.

"That's why I don't think the discussion [around Flick's future] comes too early. It's too late, for me, and they decided to continue with it.

"I have big, big concerns about whether things will get better in the coming weeks, months and then at the European Championships next year."

Kevin De Bruyne revelled in a reinvigorated Belgium realising their potential as the new Red Devils captain hailed the "fun" approach Domenico Tedesco has instilled.

Manchester City superstar De Bruyne assisted two and scored another as Belgium defeated Germany 3-2 in Tuesday's friendly at RheinEnergieStadion.

That made new coach Tedesco the first Belgium manager to start his tenure with two victories since Rene Vandereycken in 2006.

Tedesco also became the first Belgium boss to see his side score six goals in his first two matches since 1999 when Robert Waseige's new side managed nine from their first pair of outings.

De Bruyne, whose 46 assists for his country are 15 more than any international team-mate since his August 2010 debut, lauded the early work Tedesco has delivered since Roberto Martinez's exit.

"It was a nice match. The first 30 minutes were very good, full of effort. It's good to see that we can be so good," De Bruyne said on television channel VTM. "After that it was a bit more difficult, but it is logical that you also get into trouble against a team like Germany.

"The last quarter of an hour was hard, but it is good to see that this team can do that too. The combinations were there, defensively it was also pretty good. There were many positives.

"It's fun to play like this, fun for everyone. Not only with the ball, also defensively. We try to put pressure on quickly and win the ball quickly. Then you get the ball back so much faster, that is also the intention of the coach. There were many good moments. 

"The coach has already laid a certain foundation, for example in terms of structure. His way of playing is already a bit there, but there are of course also times when it is still a bit difficult. 

"But after eight days together, I think this is the best we could do."

Belgium crashed out in the group stages at the World Cup in Qatar as Martinez waved goodbye to what many deem a golden generation of international footballers for the Red Devils.

Martinez's side finished third at FIFA's top international tournament four years before at Russia 2018, sandwiched in between a pair of quarter-final eliminations at the European Championships.

While it appears a vastly talented group of Belgian footballers may end their career without international reward, Tedesco's new era has offered early promise.

A rare win over Germany, who were stunned by early goals from Yannick Carrasco and Romelu Lukaku, coupled with Friday's 3-0 victory over Sweden in Euro 2024 qualifying have left Tedesco impressed.

"Yes, I am satisfied after these two victories," Tedesco said on VTM. "Not only with the result, but also with the way we played. Only we should have finished the game in the first half.

"I wanted my players to show courage, to play forward and to claim the ball, even when Germany put pressure on us. We have the players for it. We have to believe in our own strengths, but we have to maintain the quality we bring for 90 minutes. And that's the problem."

Belgium's elimination at the World Cup came as somewhat of a surprise, given their recent success at major tournaments, and Tedesco is out to offer his new players a lease of freedom.

"The players have qualities, they can play freely here and are allowed to make mistakes," he said at his post-match press conference.

"The most important thing is that they develop as a team and as individuals. We must help and guide them in this.

"It is crucial that the enthusiasm is back. I have a good feeling and am extremely motivated. However, we still have a lot of work to do. If you win, it's more fun, of course. 

"But I do not agree that Belgian football was at a standstill after the World Cup. Losing matches at a World Cup, that can happen."

Hansi Flick rued a timid Germany performance as Belgium "took full advantage" to seize an unassailable early lead in Tuesday's 3-2 friendly triumph in Cologne.

Yannick Carrasco and Romelu Lukaku fired Domenico Tedesco's new-look Belgium into a 2-0 lead inside nine minutes at RheinEnergieStadion.

A Niclas Fullkrug penalty, his sixth goal in as many international appearances, brought Flick's side back into it before Kevin De Bruyne – who created Belgium's first two goals – put the game out of reach.

Serge Gnabry managed a late consolation but Flick acknowledged there was no way back after Tedesco's visitors punished a woeful start to earn Belgium's first win against Germany since 1954.

"We were too cautious, too passive and weren't able to put our opponents under pressure, and Belgium took full advantage," Flick said on RTL.

"Our passion brought us back into contention, but it wasn't quite enough to get a result."

While a late fightback offered Flick reason for hope, Germany must improve and make use of their international friendlies, given they have automatically qualified for Euro 2024 as a host nation.

Their cause was not helped by Leon Goretzka limping off with an ankle injury in the first half, raising fears the midfielder will not feature in Bayern Munich's crucial Bundesliga meeting with Borussia Dortmund.

Just a point separates Bundesliga leaders Dortmund and Bayern ahead of Saturday's Klassiker at Allianz Arena, with Thomas Tuchel set to take charge of the reigning champions for the first time.

The former Chelsea coach's appointment came after the dismissal of Julian Nagelsmann last week, but Tuchel may be boosted by the injury update Goretzka provided after the match.

Bayern star Goretzka, who appeared in an upbeat mood, told reporters: "I've twisted my ankle. It shouldn't last until Saturday."

Kevin De Bruyne produced an attacking masterclass as new Belgium coach Domenico Tedesco made it two wins in as many games with a 3-2 friendly triumph at Germany on Tuesday.

Tedesco's tenure started with a 3-0 victory over Sweden in Euro 2024 qualifying on Friday, and Belgium, inspired by new captain De Bruyne, impressed again at RheinEnergieStadion.

Germany had no answer inside the first nine minutes in Cologne as De Bruyne teed up goals for Yannick Carrasco and Romelu Lukaku.

Niclas Fullkrug's 44th-minute penalty offered Hansi Flick's hosts hope, but De Bruyne's slick 78th-minute finish ensured another victory at the start of a promising era under Tedesco as Serge Gnabry's late reply counted for little.

Carrasco fired Belgium into a sixth-minute lead after cutting inside from De Bruyne's pinpoint pass before coolly blasting into the roof of the net.

Another delicate De Bruyne throughball teed up Belgium's second, Lukaku racing through and lofting over an onrushing Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Dodi Lukebakio inexplicably dragged a glorious chance wide before Lukaku headed onto the crossbar from De Bruyne's corner, prompting Flick to make two 32nd-minute changes.

The injured Leon Goretzka and Florian Wirtz made way for Felix Nmecha and Emre Can, with Germany responding as Fullkrug converted his penalty after Lukaku was adjudged to have handled.

Germany ramped up the pressure after the interval as Gnabry smashed just wide before Timo Werner saw a strike ruled out for offside. Joshua Kimmich also went close with a whistling low strike.

But De Bruyne put the game out of reach, finishing into the bottom-right corner from Leandro Trossard's offload, making Gnabry's late strike from Kevin Schade's low cross – shortly after hitting the post – a mere consolation.

What does it mean? Flick warning as Belgium earn rare Germany win

Flick's side do not have to qualify for Euro 2024 due to hosting the tournament, but Germany cannot afford such early lapses in concentration at that showpiece competition.

Belgium had not beaten their hosts since 1954 but raced into the ascendancy after eight minutes and 26 seconds – their earliest 2-0 lead since February 2003 against Algeria.

Despite improving in response, Germany must show more if they are to build ahead of the Euros, with Flick needing a strong home performance after their group-stage exit at the World Cup in Qatar.

De Bruyne and Lukaku shine

Lukaku's treble against Sweden saw him join Robert De Veen on three hat-tricks for their country, the joint-most for Belgium.

The Inter loanee once again found the net here to continue his impressive form under Tedesco, although he could not have done so without De Bruyne, who created a game-leading three chances to go with his goal.

Fullkrug on fire

Fullkrug had to wait until November 2022 for his Germany debut in a pre-World Cup friendly against Oman – but he certainly has not looked back since then.

The Werder Bremen striker has scored six goals in his first six international appearances, with no Germany player this century managing as many goals in their first half-dozen outings.

What's next?

Belgium return to Euro 2024 qualifying action when they host Austria on June 17, while Germany are yet to confirm their next friendly opponents.

Leon Goretzka limped off injured for Germany in Tuesday's clash with Belgium, making him a doubt for Bayern Munich's crunch Bundesliga clash with Borussia Dortmund.

Bayern trail Dortmund by just one point at the Bundesliga summit but may have to do without Goretzka for Saturday's crucial Klassiker after the midfielder suffered an apparent ankle injury.

The Germany international initially went down and required treatment in the 29th minute before failing to continue as Hansi Flick sent on Felix Nmecha three minutes later at RheinEnergieStadion.

That was in a double substitution, the second part of which was not enforced as Emre Can replaced Florian Wirtz with Germany trailing 2-0 after early goals from Yannick Carrasco and Romelu Lukaku in Cologne.

A potentially title-deciding meeting with Dortmund will also mark Thomas Tuchel's first game in charge of Bayern, who brought in the former Chelsea coach after dismissing Julian Nagelsmann last week.

The Bundesliga champions will hope Goretzka soon returns to fitness, with the two-legged Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City also on the horizon.

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