Ben Stokes smashed his first World Cup century as England picked up a consolation win over Netherlands and raised their prospects of salvaging a place at the Champions Trophy.

The 2019 champions arrived in Pune for a bottom-of-the-table clash with a five-match losing streak behind them and the knowledge that another slip up would see them miss out on ODI cricket’s next global event in 2025.

But despite wobbling once again with the bat – going from 133 for one to 192 for six – Stokes had the will and skill to carry his side to a 160-run victory.

He struck 108 from 84 balls, grafting hard to begin with then accelerating sharply, to lift England to an imposing 339 for nine.

That was always going to be too many for a Dutch side who lacked the firepower to match Stokes and they wilted for 179 all out.

With two points and a healthy boost to their net run-rate England climbed from 10th to seventh in one jump, overtaking their opponents, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Ben Stokes blasted 108 as England posted 339 for nine to take control of their bottom-of-the-table World Cup clash against the Netherlands in Pune.

With their semi-final chances a distant memory, both sides still had plenty to play for, with a place at the 2025 Champions Trophy the prize for a top-eight finish, and England had Stokes to thank for their putting them in the box seat.

At 192 for six they were making life extremely difficult for themselves, but Stokes raced through the gears to do the hard work his side so badly needed.

Having ground out a hard-working fifty in 58 deliveries, he exploded into life and took just 20 more to reach his fifth ODI century in a display of power-hitting that helped bring 114 runs in the last 10 overs.

Despite not hitting any boundaries as he dug in between the 29th and the 43rd, he finished with six sixes and six fours before holing out with two balls left.

Coming off the back of five demoralising defeats in a row, Stokes produced a show of skill and character that reinforced his status as his team’s “spiritual leader” – a title first uttered by under-pressure head coach Matthew Mott during his spell on the injured list at the start of the tournament.

Former England seamer Steve Harmison, Stokes’ close friend and former Durham team-mate, called on England to send the 32-year-old home ahead of this match to accelerate his forthcoming knee surgery, but it is hard to see who could have provided the impetus had they done so.

Chris Woakes provided good support as he made 51 in a seventh-wicket of stand of 129 with Stokes, while Dawid Malan (87) was on course for a ton of his own until a silly run out cost him.

England had bossed the opening exchanges, Malan pounding out 10 boundaries in a 36-ball fifty in the powerplay, and even papered over Jonny Bairstow’s sloppy dismissal for 15 via a top edge.

The score was 133 for one when Joe Root attempted, for the second time, one of his trademark reverse scoops over the wicketkeeper. The first one had raced away for four, but this time he got his timings all wrong and was clean bowled through his own legs without even committing a full swing of the bat.

Root has struggled for runs for much of the last month, but falling to a Logan van Beek nutmeg was a new one on his bingo card.

Malan, who had driven expertly and swept two big sixes off Roelof van der Merwe, then fell on his sword in the very next over.

Setting off for a single despite tapping straight to cover, he was sent back by Stokes and caught an inch out of his ground by some smart work in the field.

Suddenly England looked vulnerable again, with the recalled Harry Brook (11) pulling Bas de Leede tamely into the leg-side to fluff his opportunity back in the XI.

Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali followed for single figures, the off-form skipper picking out mid-off and his deputy arcing the softest possible catch to long-off.

Stokes grafted hard to keep the innings alive, getting his eye in before finally indulging himself at the back end.

Aryan Dutt’s last over went for 24, De Leede’s final two shipped 34 and Paul van Meekeren delivered a steady stream of wides as the pressure told.

Stokes reached his hundred with a reverse sweep and finally departed in the closing moments looking for one last blow.

England’s early exit from the World Cup is already guaranteed but assistant coach Carl Hopkinson insists their bottom-of-the-table clash against the Netherlands is no “dead rubber”.

As the tournament finally edges towards the business end, the defending champions have long since become an afterthought in the wider context of the competition.

They have lost six of their seven games and saw their last mathematical chance of a miracle wiped off the table by rivals Australia in Ahmedabad last week.

The best they can hope for now is avoiding a first ever ODI defeat to the Dutch, the only associate nation competing in India, and keep their prospects of reaching the 2025 Champions Trophy alive.

They need a top-eight finish to book their spot, meaning there is no leeway for wallowing in their dreadful form when they take the field in Pune on Wednesday.

The appearance of Hopkinson, a low-key member of the backroom team responsible primarily for fielding, suggested the squad were not keen on issuing their own public call to arms, but he has no qualms about their motivation.

“I don’t think there’s ever a dead rubber when you play for England, to be honest. I think the lads are completely up for it,” he said.

“We’ve got two games in which we need to win both to qualify for the Champions Trophy, so I think that’s there for everybody to see. The guys are going to be obviously up for it and I think we’ll be good.

“We need to win and win well to qualify for the Champions Trophy, which is what we need to do.”

On his unexpected role as carrier of the England message, he added: “I’m not quite sure why I’m the man to explain, (but) I’m an assistant coach with the England team and I’m more than happy to come out and speak about our campaign so far.”

England have named an unchanged side for the last three games, losing emphatically to Sri Lanka, India and Australia, and could belatedly mix things up.

Harry Brook is on hand to add ballast to a badly under-performing top six, but could be added in place of all-rounder Liam Livingstone rather than one of the specialist batters.

Livingstone adds an extra spin option but has not been able to carry his share of the run-scoring load, with just 60 runs in six innings.

Pace bowler Mark Wood, who has been managing a sore knee, could also miss out with Brydon Carse and Gus Atkinson snapping at his heels for a chance.

Wood is the fastest seamer in the squad by a distance, consistently clearing 90mph, but has struggled to keep a lid on his economy rate and has only six wickets at 58.16.

Carse and Atkinson are both likely to form part of England’s white-ball future, leaving captain Jos Buttler and coach Matthew Mott to decide whether now is the time to blood them in a game with live stakes.

Ben Stokes’ fitness was under observation on the eve of the match, with the Test captain carrying various niggles. He missed the first three games here with a hip problem and is set to undergo surgery on his long-standing left-knee injury when he gets back to England.

Former England quick Steve Harmison told the PA news agency this week that the team management should instruct Stokes to leave the camp and go home early in a bid to fast-track his recovery for the new-year Test series in India.

But Hopkinson suggested that idea was not under consideration.

“Knowing Ben, he’ll want to try and play the next game in front of him and try and win that for England,” he said.

“He’s about winning games of cricket for England, so I’d imagine that’s what he’ll be thinking about first and foremost.

“Once he’s obviously made that decision to have the operation, that’s obviously booked in and that’s what he’s going to do, but it’s not before this tournament finishes.”

Netherlands all-rounder Bas de Leede is eyeing a “massive opportunity” to edge England for a place in the Champions Trophy, insisting the pressure is all on Jos Buttler’s men.

While the 2019 champions have endured a miserable World Cup, sitting rock bottom in 10th place after seven games, the only associate nation at the competition have exceeded expectations with victory over Bangladesh and a famous upset of South Africa.

They meet in Pune on Wednesday with qualification for the next global 50-over tournament potentially on the line – something England would have taken for granted just weeks ago before their campaign crumbled.

Breaking into the Champions Trophy would be a striking achievement for the Dutch and one De Leede, who plays for Durham, believes is within their grasp if England succumb to the tension of their situation.

“As a title-defending team there is a huge pressure on you straight away, especially when you don’t get a great start, and I’m sure there is added pressure for them now on this game,” he told the PA news agency.

“For us it’s a privilege to be playing for a spot in the Champions Trophy, for them it’s an expectation to finish at least in the top eight.

“It’s a massive opportunity, 100 per cent. It’s in the back of our heads that if we do manage to win this game it would help enormously to qualify and that would be huge for Dutch cricket.

“Of course England are a dangerous side, they have such quality in the batting and bowling departments, but two wins in this campaign is pretty good for us and we feel as a group there is more out there for us.

“The proof is there in the South Africa game. To see what we have been practising come off against a team like that was great to see and gave us a lot of confidence as a team.”

De Leede, who has taken more wickets than any English bowler with 11 so far, is also embracing the chance to strike a blow against a system that frequently cuts out those who do not have full member status as ICC level.

The abandonment of the World Cup Super League format means the Netherlands no longer have mandatory games against the biggest names and will instead slip back into a structure that pits them against the likes of Namibia, Nepal, Scotland and Canada.

“Getting games against the bigger nations is very hard for us. It’s hard to get teams to play us so we’ve got to force them to, that’s the only way,” he said.

“If we did qualify for the Champions Trophy it would secure another seven games against the best teams. That how we keep progressing as a national team and it’s in our hands.

“We kind of felt like we were gate-crashing here so to come through would be massive.”

Callum Robinson is convinced the Republic of Ireland are heading in the right direction despite their disappointing Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.

Ireland will not be in Germany for next summer’s finals – barring an unlikely series of results elsewhere which could hand them a second chance via the play-offs – after taking just six points from their first seven Group B fixtures, with just a tough trip to the Netherlands next month to come.

That has left manager Stephen Kenny fighting for his job, but Cardiff striker Robinson believes the foundations the 51-year-old has put in place since succeeding Mick McCarthy in April 2021 could yet pay dividends.

Speaking after Monday night’s 4-0 victory over Gibraltar in Faro, the 28-year-old said: “There’s so much potential and it’s a hard one for everybody to hear, but I think we’ve come a long way, football-wise.

“Now it’s getting over the other side by getting wins and three points. It’s been disappointing that we haven’t got the results we wanted, but if you look from the time the gaffer came in, it’s been chalk and cheese. We’re playing much better football.

“But it’s about bringing all of it together, being the team that’s hard to beat, scores goals and get wins.”

Kenny’s masterplan has been to overhaul his squad – he has handed out 20 debuts and used 52 different players in his time at the helm – with many of the newcomers elevated from the under-21 ranks.

The average age of the starting line-up at the Estadio Algarve was a little under 25.4; that figure was in excess of 28.8 for McCarthy’s final fixture against Denmark in November 2019.

However, whatever progress Kenny believes has been made has not been reflected in results, with the win in Faro just his sixth in 28 competitive matches and only one of note, a 3-0 Nations League victory over Scotland.

But Robinson said: “I can remember when I first joined the squad, everyone was saying that we weren’t playing enough football, just hitting it up there and hoping.

“That’s not so long ago, only five years ago. We nicked results, but it wasn’t enjoyable to watch. Now we’re playing good football and it’s about bringing that balance, being good in both boxes.”

 

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Robinson was one of Ireland’s goalscorers in Faro, marking the latest stage in his re-emergence from a long-term hamstring injury which was followed by a back problem and in the meantime, he has seen 18-year-old Evan Ferguson, who also found the back of the net on Monday evening, take his chance with both hands.

Asked about the competition, the older man said: “That’s football and he’s flying. I’m here to help. It’s competition and we’ll push each other.

“He’s a young kid, but is coming on leaps and bounds watching him week in, week out and he’s been nominated for the (European) Golden Boy (Award).

“He’s level-headed and if he stays the way he is off the pitch, he’ll have an unbelievable career.”

Mikey Johnston has warned the Netherlands not to underestimate the Republic of Ireland as the Dutch attempt to book their place at the finals of Euro 2024.

Barring an unlikely sequence of events which would hand Ireland a play-off place, they will not be in Germany next summer, but the Netherlands will be if they can take maximum points from their remaining Group B fixtures against Stephen Kenny’s men and Gibraltar next month.

Monday night’s last-gasp 1-0 win in Greece as the Republic beat Gibraltar 4-0 in Faro left the Netherlands in pole position to claim second place behind France, but Celtic winger Johnston, who was on the scoresheet along with Evan Ferguson, Matt Doherty and Callum Robinson, is determined to end a disappointing campaign on a high.

Asked if he saw the trip to Amsterdam as a chance to bloody the nose of one of European football’s big guns, who won 2-1 in Dublin last month, the 24-year-old said: “I think we have shown we can do that.

“Obviously the results haven’t gone our way, but we went toe-to-toe with them and it’s just fine margins.

“At either end in the box, we’ve not been good enough at times, conceding goals we shouldn’t have and maybe we’ve not taken our chances as well.

“This group has given everything to qualify and that’s all we can ask.”

Ireland always knew they had a tough task to get out of the group when they were drawn against both the Dutch and World Cup runners-up France.

But defeat by the Greeks in Athens in their second fixture left them up against it and they will head into their final fixture with only six points banked from the first seven, all of them against whipping boys Gibraltar.

That return has left manager Kenny facing a review next month which might well have been brought forward despite assurances to the contrary had things gone badly at the Estadio Algarve, and few commentators expect him to remain in his role.

Asked to assess the campaign, Johnston said: “Obviously it’s disappointing that we haven’t qualified. Our group is obviously tough, but we are not making excuses, we still believed we could qualify from the group.”

Whether or not Kenny is involved in the international set-up beyond November remains to be seen, but Johnston will hope his efforts to date in the green shirt will lead to further caps.

His six appearances so far – the last of them a first start – have yielded two goals and an exciting brand of football which has at times been missing from Kenny’s team despite the manager’s attempts to adopt a more progressive approach.

Johnston spent last season on loan at Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal, but has missed the start of the new campaign back at Celtic after suffering a stress fracture in his back, and he is now looking to catch the eye of club boss Brendan Rodgers.

He said: “I’m just trying to work my way behind the scenes to get my opportunity. The manager has got tough decisions to make. He has got wingers that he has brought in for a few million and whatever, so it’s up to me to get into the team.”

Stephen Kenny is thinking only of the Republic of Ireland’s final Euro 2024 qualifier in the Netherlands after avoiding a potential banana skin against Gibraltar.

Monday evening’s 4-0 win over Group B’s basement boys handed Ireland just a second victory in seven attempts in qualification, and they will head for Amsterdam next month to face a Dutch side still to secure a place at next summer’s finals.

That game and the friendly against New Zealand which follows it seem likely to be Kenny’s last at the helm, with his contract due to expire at the end of the campaign.

 

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However, asked after the victory at the Estadio Algarve if that would be it for him, Kenny said: “That’s out of my control, I can’t affect that. For me, I’ve got to try and get a result in Amsterdam.

 

“It’s a big game. Holland need to win to qualify. They will be flying. We’ve got to put a performance in against Holland in Amsterdam. It’s a big challenge, it’s one we are looking forward to. Out of that, it’s out of my control.

“I honestly don’t know. It may well be. I’ll give it everything against Holland and New Zealand. There’s no doubt, of course I want to be the manager of Ireland. It’s brilliant.”

Kenny has found himself under intense pressure since Friday night’s 2-0 home defeat by Greece – who also won the reverse fixture in Athens 2-1 – which ended Ireland’s hopes of automatic qualification.

The 51-year-old, who insisted before the game that he was not considering resigning, said: “I understand the Greek results, I understand that. Losing to Greece, that’s a 50-50 game. We lost it. There’s a lot of criticism because of that.

“That’s OK. There’s also been a lot of good football that people shouldn’t forget either.”

Evan Ferguson’s early strike set Kenny’s men on their way in Faro before Mikey Johnston made it 2-0 at the break, and second-half strikes from Matt Doherty and substitute Callum Robinson completed a win which was every bit as regulation as it should have been against a side who have now played 44 Euro and World Cup qualifiers and are yet to collect a point.

The manager was delighted with the way his players responded to the defeat by the Greeks.

He said: “We’re disappointed having lost the game on Friday. To put that behind them and to train and get themselves ready in a professional way and then work the openings for the goals in a very clever way, it made the finishes easier.

“The players deserve credit because it was a professional job on the night, a good performance. We could have got a lot more goals.”

Kenny was particularly pleased with Celtic winger Johnston’s contribution as he claimed a second senior international goal on his first start for his country.

He said: “Mikey Johnston, he needs games. The tempo of that game isn’t Greece and Holland. He is a talent, he will be a good player for Ireland.”

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.

The Republic of Ireland will attempt to launch a strong finish to a disappointing Euro 2024 qualifying campaign when they welcome Greece to the Aviva Stadium on Friday evening.

Stephen Kenny’s men saw hopes of automatic qualification effectively go up in smoke last month when they were beaten by Group B rivals France in Paris and the Netherlands in Dublin, leaving them with just three points from their five games to date.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the talking points surrounding a game in which there is little more than pride at stake for the hosts.

Curtains for Kenny?

Despite inheriting an Ireland squad which had secured a Euro 2020 play-off place on which they were ultimately unable to cash in, Kenny stated from early in his reign that qualification for Euro 2024 was his target. Barring an unlikely series of results, the Republic will not make it to Germany automatically and even another ticket for the play-offs looks unlikely as a result of their poor Nations League record. A review of the manager’s tenure will take place next month, but even some of Kenny’s most staunch supporters are starting to turn.

Greek tragedy

 

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The Group B draw left both Ireland and Greece, who were already assured of a play-off spot, facing a difficult task to deny France and the Netherlands the top two berths and as such, the games between the two were going to be crucial. Kenny’s men travelled to Athens in June knowing victory would put them in a strong position from which to mount an attack; they left on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline and with the alarm bells already ringing after just two games.

Matt finish?

Matt Doherty in particular did not enjoy his trip to the Greek capital. With his side trailing to Anastasios Bakasetas’ and a second from Girogos Masouras after Nathan Collins had levelled, the defender was sent off after a needless clash with Liverpool’s Kostas Tsimikas. He and his team-mates were less than happy with the behaviour of some of the Greece players during the game and there is a hunger for a measure of revenge within the camp.

When Irish eyes are spying

Greece boss Gus Poyet was a satisfied man after the win at the OPAP Arena, claiming afterwards that he had anticipated what Ireland would do and had therefore been able to combat it. Ireland assistant manager Keith Andrews this week suggested the Uruguayan had enlisted the help of Irish contacts to draw up his masterplan. Time will tell if he has been able to do so once again.

Evan help us

Last month’s 2-0 defeat in Paris and the 2-1 reverse at the hands of the Dutch which followed it might have been different had Kenny been able to call upon one of his emerging stars. Eighteen-year-old Brighton striker Evan Ferguson was forced to withdraw from the squad due to a knee injury, robbing Ireland of their most potent weapon. Ferguson is back and primed and Ireland expects.

Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny has told his players they must believe they can still qualify automatically for the Euro 2024 finals until it becomes a mathematical impossibility.

The chances of Ireland making it to next summer’s finals effectively evaporated last month when they were beaten by Group B rivals France and the Netherlands, and even the prospect of a back-door ticket via the play-offs looks unlikely given their Nations League ranking.

However beleaguered boss Kenny, who has come under intense pressure as a result of just a single victory in the opening five qualifiers – and that against minnows Gibraltar – remained defiant as he plotted revenge against Greece, who got the better of his side in Athens in June.

The manager said: “We want to finish the group strongly. We are still in contention for automatic qualification.

“It’s not in our own hands, we are relying on results elsewhere. We have to see if we can take it to the November window and the only way we can do that is by taking six points from this window.

“It may not be enough, but we’d be kicking ourselves if we didn’t do that and results did happen elsewhere.

“We do our side. We win the games we need to win and that starts with Greece on Friday.”

Kenny’s desperation to get the better of Greece has been fuelled in part by a perception that opposite number Gus Poyet went into the reverse fixture armed with detailed knowledge of how to combat Ireland.

Assistant Keith Andrews suggested earlier this week that Poyet, in doing his homework on the Republic, had used his contacts from Ireland to get the low-down on players and tactics.

Kenny, however, played down talk of a spying scandal, insisting the Greeks had had no help from within his camp.

Asked if he had any surprises up his sleeve for Poyet, he said with a smile: “Yes, I had Theo Zagorakis in the hotel in Castleknock earlier. He’s coming down and we’ll see how he is.”

Kenny added: “It’s all quite possible, but listen, I’m not getting hung up on that and certainly we’re just focused on preparing the team for the game on Friday.”

Ireland have been boosted by the return of Brighton striker Evan Ferguson, who missed last month’s fixtures with a knee injury, although Blackburn’s Sammie Szmodics, who wad called up to replace Aaron Connolly following his withdrawal, has left the squad for family reasons.

Just how different the Republic’s situation might have been had blossoming talent Ferguson been available against the French and the Dutch is a moot point, but Kenny is convinced the motivation of his players will be as high as ever despite the seeming futility of their position.

He said: “Firstly, it’s a huge honour just to put on the green shirt and to represent your country, especially in a qualifier.

“The reality is, although it’s an outside chance, mathematically we still have a chance. As long as that is the case, we must give everything of ourselves all the time.

“That’s not in question. I think they will be hugely motivated, the players, to try to fulfil their potential in this game.”

Millie Bright said it was “mind-blowing” that VAR was not used in England’s 2-1 Nations League defeat against the Netherlands.

Lieke Martens’ opener for the hosts would have been disallowed for offside if VAR had been in operation, as Danielle van de Donk took part in the build-up after returning from an offside position.

But VAR is not mandatory in the Nations League group stages – it is at the discretion of the host nation – and the Lionesses also had two goals struck off for offside, neither of which could be confirmed by VAR.

Speaking after the defeat England captain Bright, 30, was quoted on the BBC website as saying: “This is international football and we do not have VAR in a competitive international game, which is mind-blowing.

“There is no consistency. It is always frustrating (to not have VAR). We push the level of the game to be so high and professional, yet we sometimes have VAR, and sometimes we don’t and sometimes we have goalline technology.

“It is really unfortunate that these are still huge decisions that are incorrect. That’s where we as players have to keep speaking about it, we have to step up, and we have to demand better, and demand more.”

After Alessia Russo’s 64th-minute equaliser, England were then punished after losing possession in the 90th minute as Alex Greenwood gave the ball away and Martens fed substitute Renate Jansen, who rifled past Mary Earps.

England manager Sarina Wiegman also expressed her frustration at Netherlands’ first goal with Danielle van de Donk seemingly in an offside position before assisting Martens.

“When they scored their first goal, we didn’t do well, we didn’t play well, but it’s so obviously offside,” Weigman told ITV, following only the third defeat of her 41-game England tenure.

“That needs to be seen. I think the standards of the game are getting higher and higher, so (having VAR) would absolutely help. It’s just a little bit disappointing.

“(It is) absolutely a tough one to take and a very, very unnecessary one. The first half they were the better team.

“I think second half we totally dominated the game, and of course we scored one goal – but before that we got lots of huge opportunities, too. It’s just one moment that we don’t manage the game and in the counter-attack they score for 2-1. That’s very, very disappointing.”

The result leaves both England and Andries Jonker’s Netherlands on three points in Group A1. Belgium, who England face twice in October in their next group games, lead the pool with four points after drawing 1-1 with Scotland, who have one.

Wiegman’s side, 2-1 victors over Scotland in their opener last Friday, are attempting to secure a Paris 2024 Olympics qualification spot via this competition, and need to finish top of their group to have a chance to do so.

England boss Sarina Wiegman has said she is “very worried” about the playing calendar after naming her squad for this month’s Women’s Nations League double-header.

The Lionesses return to action, after their defeat in the World Cup final on August 20, by facing Scotland in Sunderland a week on Friday and the Netherlands in Utrecht four days later to open their campaign in the new competition.

The Arsenal players in her squad – forward Alessia Russo and defender Lotte Wubben-Moy – took part in Champions League qualifying matches last Wednesday and Saturday.

Wiegman, whose players started their pre-World Cup preparation camp on June 19, told a press conference on Wednesday when asked if she was concerned about the calendar and time off: “Yes, I am very worried.

“I was worried before the World Cup, and we knew this was a very short turnaround.

“It’s a bigger thing – we’re all talking about the calendar and we really have to get connected with FIFA, UEFA, the federations, and we have to make that better.

“Of course the game is growing, which is really good. But it has to grow together and players need some rest too.

“Next week they come in and some players only had six days off, which after such a high-level, high-pressure competition is not good for them. And that has been going on for a long time, because we have major tournaments in the summer all the time. So the urgency to solve it and make it better is really, really high.

“The players will come in and we first have to see how they are physically, and we have to get them fresh, and do everything to do that. That’s going to be a challenge.

“Of course you have the team and you want to perform at the highest level, and also you want players to be fresh. For me and my staff it’s balancing (the) two – is this player fit enough, fresh enough, to play the game? That’s balancing, it’s so intense, and players are not robots.”

She added: “I’ve talked to coaches. I think everyone’s aware that we have to speak with each other and we can do a little better, and we all know it’s pretty complex.

“But I think conversations are going on, and we just need to keep doing that and hopefully find better solutions than we had.”

Keira Walsh is missing from England’s first squad since the Women’s World Cup due to injury.

As well as midfielder Walsh, forward Bethany England also drops out, ruled out after undergoing hip surgery last week.

There is no recall at this stage for Beth Mead despite her returning to Arsenal’s matchday squad as an unused substitute in their Champions League qualifying games last week.

And the same applies to Fran Kirby, who has been involved in pre-season with Chelsea – both sat out the World Cup because of injury.

Sarina Wiegman’s 24-player selection sees Maya Le Tissier, Lucy Staniforth and Jess Park brought back into the fold.

Le Tissier and Staniforth were on the standby list ahead of the summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, the latter replacing Park, who withdrew because of a shoulder issue.

Wiegman’s World Cup runners-up play Scotland at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light a week on Friday and the Netherlands in Utrecht four days later in the new women’s Nations League.

Wiegman said: “By the time we play our first game, it will be little more than a month since the World Cup final. We have had little time to reflect on all we have achieved so far this year.

“Instead, we will have to make sure the players are fresh enough and ready to perform straight away, if we want to go far in another competition.

“We will play a derby match against Scotland and they have shown good development recently and are getting stronger and stronger, while we know all about the Netherlands of course, and the very talented players they have.

“It is the first time we have had the Nations League in the women’s game, and it will mean even more competitive matches for us to test ourselves.

“While the time to look back on a special period for us will come at the end of the year, it will be good to see the fans again in Sunderland. We have a great connection with the north east and I know they will give us tremendous support again.”

The Republic of Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for Euro 2024 were all but ended by the Netherlands for whom substitute Wout Weghorst’s goal secured a 2-1 win in Dublin.

The hosts, in need of victory to put themselves in contention in Group B, took the lead on four minutes when Adam Idah scored from the penalty spot after Virgil van Dijk had been penalised for handball.

Goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu brought down Denzel Dumfries as the Netherlands won a penalty of their own midway through the first half, with Cody Gakpo levelling from 12 yards.

Weghorst ensured his side moved second with a game in hand behind leaders France when he scored from Dumfries’ cut-back after 56 minutes to leave the Republic requiring a Dutch collapse if they are to progress.

Elsewhere in the group, Greece beat Gibraltar 5-0 in Athens to remain in the race for the second qualifying spot.

Dimitrios Pelkas opened the scoring after nine minutes before Konstantinos Mavropanos followed up midway through the half with the first of two goals.

Giorgos Masouras netted after the break, before both he and Mavropanos each grabbed another to seal the victory and put the hosts level with the Dutch on nine points, albeit having played a game more.

Northern Ireland fell to a 1-0 defeat in Kazakhstan, their fourth by the same scoreline in a run of five straight losses, to leave their hopes of qualification virtually extinguished.

Striker Maksim Samorodov drilled into the bottom corner from outside the box and beyond Bailey Peacock-Farrell after 32 minutes to keep the home side in with a realistic chance of reaching their first major tournament.

They are one of four teams separated by a point at the top of Group H, with Denmark leading the way thanks to Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s 86th-minute strike to seal a 1-0 win away in Finland.

It meant the Danes briefly replaced their hosts at the top of the group, before being knocked back into second on goal difference after Slovenia romped to a 4-0 win in San Marino.

Zan Vipotnik, Jan Mlakar, Sandi Lovric and Zan Karnicnik scored the goals against the section’s bottom side, who remain without a point.

Poland’s hopes of reaching the finals received a serious knock as they lost for the third time in five games in Group E, this time going down to a 2-0 defeat in Albania.

Jasir Asani and Mirlind Daku scored either side of half-time in Tirana to send Albania two points clear of the Czech Republic at the top of the group.

Moldova are behind the Czechs on goal difference after they kept up their surprise bid to reach the finals with a 1-0 win in the Faroe Islands.

Vadim Rata netted early in the second half in Torshavn to move his side onto eight points and leave the Faroes adrift at the bottom with a single point on the board.

In Group G, Montenegro and Serbia kept up the pressure on leaders Hungary in a three-way fight to qualify.

Montenegro needed a goal six minutes into added time from Stevan Jovetic to snatch a 2-1 win against Bulgaria in Podgorica despite having played more than 30 minutes with 10 players.

Igor Vujacic was sent off just before the hour mark after Stefan Savic had given the hosts the lead on the stroke of half-time, but Preslav Borukov levelled in the 79th minute before Jovetic’s dramatic late intervention.

Aleksandar Mitrovic score a first-half hat-trick as Serbia coasted to a 3-1 win in Lithuania, with Gytis Paulauskas’s goal not enough to rescue the home side’s faint hopes of qualification.

Cody Gakpo and Wout Weghorst effectively ended the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2024 qualification hopes as the Netherlands came from behind to win in Dublin.

On a night when Ireland simply had to win, they flew at the Dutch and took an early lead when Adam Idah nervelessly converted a fourth-minute penalty awarded for handball against Virgil van Dijk.

However, Gakpo levelled from the spot after 19 minutes and after an unhappy Ronald Koeman had made a double half-time change, substitute Weghorst fired the visitors to a 2-1 victory as they recovered from a less than impressive opening 45 minutes to hold sway.

For Republic manager Stephen Kenny, a fourth defeat in five Group B games and just a single win means a trip to Germany next summer is only a mathematical possibility, with France having collected a maximum 15 points and the Dutch and Greece both sitting on nine.

Appointed in April 2020, Kenny, who received a mixed response from a crowd of 49,807 when his named was announced ahead of kick-off at the Aviva Stadium, set his sights on building a new-look side for this campaign but to be so far off the pace with three games left to play represents failure in that mission and his future looks bleak.

His team played with real endeavour, Idah giving Van Dijk a torrid examination in perhaps his best senior international display, but they were painfully exposed defensively by genuine quality for both goals and ultimately could not find the cutting edge to repeat their famous victory over the Dutch in 2001.

The Netherlands were fortunate to escape a second-minute mix-up at the back when Alan Browne forced an error and Idah, who had only the keeper to beat had he turned swiftly, instead fed Chiedozie Ogbene whose shot was blocked.

However, from the resulting corner, Van Dijk mistimed his jump and saw James McClean’s cross hit his arm, prompting referee Irfan Peljto to point to the spot, and Idah duly obliged by confidently sending keeper Mark Flekken the wrong way to get Ireland off to a dream start.

 

The home side maintained their high-octane start and Browne saw a 13th-minute header from Ogbene’s inviting cross blocked at source, but the visitors forced their way back into the game with their first move of any real quality.

Gakpo’s expertly-threaded pass split the Irish defence and allowed Denzel Dumfries to round exposed keeper Gavin Bazunu, who brought him down in his efforts to rescue the situation.

Peljto once again had little option to award a penalty and Bazunu was unable keep out Gakpo’s skidding attempt despite correctly diving to his left.

Van Dijk was fortunate to be awarded a free-kick after being dispossessed by Idah on the edge of his own penalty area, but Nathan Ake was penalised for hauling down the Norwich striker to allow Browne, who along with Jason Knight was making a real impact, to whip a 33rd-minute free-kick just wide.

Ake redeemed himself within seconds by throwing his body into the path of another Ogbene strike after Josh Cullen had mugged Frenkie de Jong on the edge of the box and fed Idah as the Netherlands played with fire once again.

Such was Ronald Koeman’s displeasure with what he had seen that he replaced Daley Blind and Mats Wieffer with Weghorst and Tijjani Reijnders before the restart, and the changes gave his side a better shape.

It took a fine sliding challenge by Browne to deny Xavi Simons a 52nd-minute strike at goal and an avoid an extension of Ireland’s recent record of conceding shortly after the break, but the increasingly influential De Jong fashioned the breakthrough 11 minutes into the second half.

The Barcelona midfielder’s lofted ball over the top was perfectly weighted for Dumfries to turn it across goal and allow Weghorst to stab past Bazunu.

Ireland’s sense of deflation was palpable and although they battled manfully to the whistle, they were unable to trouble Flekken unduly as the visitors eased their way across the finish line.

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