Finland claim impressive win over Slovenia to climb to top of Group H

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Finland claim impressive win over Slovenia to climb to top of Group H

Antman celebrates his goal
Antman celebrates his goalAFP
Finland claimed a second straight victory in UEFA European Championship qualification (ECQ) after they put in a clinical performance to beat Slovenia 2-0 in Helsinki, moving the hosts level with their opponents on six points in Group H.

Playing in front of their own fans for the first time in ECQ, Finland utilised home advantage to draw first blood in the 13th minute. Teemu Pukki fired a low cross into the path of his strike partner Joel Pohjanpalo, who guided the ball through the legs of Vid Belec.

Following a sluggish start, Slovenia took their time to gain a foothold, but they showed signs of promise as the first half wore on. Udinese midfielder Sandi Lovrić dragged an effort wide from the centre of the box, before Benjamin Šeško struck the woodwork from Petar Stojanović’s cut-back.

See a summary of the match at Flashscore

After carrying a significant amount of momentum into the interval, Slovenia continued to pile the pressure on their hosts after the restart as they desperately searched for an equaliser. Andraž Šporar sent the ball harmlessly wide after latching onto Stojanović’s well-weighted pass, before the Empoli man unleashed his own effort. However, experienced goalkeeper Lukáš Hrádecký pulled off a fine stop to deny Stojanović from netting his third international goal.

The resilient Finnish defence managed to weather the Slovenian storm, and with belief ebbing away from the visitors, Markku Kanerva’s side landed the knockout blow. Once again Pukki was the provider, laying the ball into the path of Oliver Antman, who drove a low strike into the bottom corner to double Finland’s advantage just after the hour mark.

Antman’s fourth goal in five international appearances effectively ended Slovenia’s hopes of picking up a positive result. The home side held firm to record a second straight clean sheet, while Slovenia are left to mull over the first defeat of their qualifying campaign.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Teemu Pukki (Finland) 

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