09.04.2024 22:51 h

Spain fight back against Czechs in Euro 2025 qualifiers, France edge win

World champions Spain roared back from a goal down in Burgos on Tuesday to beat Czech Republic 3-1 in Euro 2025 qualifying, while 10-women France secured another single-goal victory against Sweden.

Second-half goals from Maria Mendez, Jenni Hermoso and Mariona Caldentey propelled Spain to victory after Eliska Sonntagova's surprise opener for the visitors.

"This match prepares us for everything to come," said Spain coach Montse Tome.

"How we play the game matters a lot to us, these games prepare us for the Olympics."

It looked like a shock may be on the cards with 56 minutes on the clock when Sonntagova broke the deadlock.

But just four minutes later, and despite missing Ballon d'Or holder Aitana Bonmati, the 2023 World Cup winners had already come from behind to take the lead.

Mendez rose highest from Alexia Putellas' corner to nod the Spanish level on 58 minutes and two minutes later, Hermoso finished from an acute angle following a superb Caldentey slide-rule pass to put Spain in front.

With 20 minutes on the clock, Spain finished off the encounter when Hermoso turned provider for Caldentey.

Hermoso played her Barcelona team-mate in down the left, before Caldentey cut inside a defender and slotted a cool finish into the bottom corner from 15 yards.

The victory for the Spanish national team again came on a difficult day for the country's football federation (RFEF), with disgraced ex-boss Luis Rubiales receiving summons Tuesday to testify as part of the investigation into over an alleged graft scandal at the federation when he was president.

Last week, the 46-year-old returned to Spain from the Dominican Republic and was briefly detained at the airport as part of a probe into federation contracts signed since 2018.

Rubiales was forced to step down as RFEF boss last September after forcibly kissing Women's World Cup star Hermoso following Spain's triumph in the Sydney final in August.

Spain now sit top of Group 2 with six points and 10 goals after two matches.

Elsewhere in Spain's group, Amalie Vangsgaard stayed amongst the goals as she netted for the second and third time this campaign as Denmark ran out 4-2 winners against Belgium in Viborg.

Defender Wendie Renard's 38th goal for France was the difference as the Olympic hosts won 1-0 in Sweden, their second victory by that score in qualifying.

With just 10 minutes remaining, Marie-Antoinette Katoto put Sakina Karchaoui's cross back across goal to where Renard was waiting to power the ball across the line from close range.

The goal topped off another dominant display by Les Bleues but yet again it was one in which they were too wasteful in front of goal.

Sweden's chances of grabbing a second draw of their campaign, after last week's 1-1 at Wembley, were given a boost when Vicki Becho picked up a second booking eight minutes into added time.

But it came too late and, even reduced to 10, France held on to make it two wins in two.

After beating Ireland 1-0 in Metz on Friday, France sit top of their group on six points, ahead of Sweden and England in second.

Reigning European champions England defeated Republic of Ireland 2-0 in Dublin, courtesy of early strikes by Lauren James and Alex Greenwood.

James opened the scoring on 12 minutes with defender Greenwood doubling the lead six minutes later from the spot.

Greenwood then missed a second penalty on the half-hour mark but England nonetheless saw out the match to get a first win of their qualifying campaign.

After an excellent win on matchday one against the Netherlands, Italy succumbed 2-1 in Finland with Jutta Rantala striking in the second half to cancel out Lucia Di Guglielmo's first-half opener before an Elena Linari own-goal with 15 minutes remaining gave the hosts victory.

The Netherlands got their qualification bid on track with a 1-0 home win against Norway thanks to a sixth-minute Lineth Beerensteyn goal.

In Group 4, Austria won 3-1 in Poland while three first-half goals gave Germany a win by the same margin at home to Iceland.