Euro 2024 roundup: Ukraine and Poland join Georgia in securing spots at European Championships


Euro 2024 roundup: Ukraine and Poland join Georgia in securing spots at European Championships

Ukraine celebrate qualifying
Ukraine celebrate qualifyingReuters
Ukraine and Poland sealed nail-biting victories in the play-offs for the European Championships, becoming the final teams to book their spots at this summer's tournament.

Ukraine 2 Iceland 1

Ukraine started positively, yet it was the Nordic side that came closest to breaking the early deadlock via Jón Dagur Þorsteinsson, whose thunderous effort was impressively saved by Andriy Lunin.

That was a sign of things to come, as Iceland took the lead in the 30th minute via the in-form Albert Guðmundsson, who produced a solo goal, moving past a few defenders and blasting a rocket from the edge of the box past a helpless Lunin.

The Blue and Yellows were lacking in ideas, but the Icelandic goal appeared to spark them into life. Heorhiy Sudakov came close to finding the back of the net before being denied by Hákon Valdimarsson, and only a few minutes later, Roman Yaremchuk looked to have equalised, but referee Clément Turpin ruled out his strike following a check from the VAR.

Match stats
Match statsFlashscore

Despite Ukraine’s attacking promise in the final stages of the first half, they couldn’t translate that into an equaliser before the break.

Serhiy Rebrov’s side carried the momentum into the second half and needed just eight minutes to even things up thanks to Viktor Tsyhankov. The Girona winger cut inside from the right wing and drilled an effort past Guðmundsson, bagging his third goal of the qualifying campaign and keeping Ukraine’s chances alive.

The Ukrainians kept pushing forward following the leveller, whereas Iceland struggled to even move past the halfway line.

It was a one-sided affair throughout the rest of the second half, and not even Oleksandr Zinchenko's entrance moved the needle in Ukraine’s favour. Iceland simply tried to hold on and play on the counter, and while Þorsteinsson nearly bagged a second strike in the 76th minute, they looked happy to employ a defensive stance while holding out for ET.

However, Mudryk came through for Ukraine, sealing their Euro 2024 spot with a dramatic winner in the 85th minute with a strike from outside the box – just his second international goal.

Mudryk scored Ukraine's winner
Mudryk scored Ukraine's winnerReuters

Iceland ultimately had no response as Ukraine booked a spot in this summer’s European Championship where they’ll compete in Group E alongside Belgium, Slovakia, and Romania. Meanwhile, Iceland will surely fly back home disappointed that they couldn’t hold on to their early advantage, as they’ll miss out on another major tournament.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Mykhailo Mudryk (Ukraine)

Wales 0 Poland 0 (Poland qualify on penalties)

With Wales scoring in the opening seven minutes of their last two home Internationals, a fast and furious start in front of a raucous home crowd would be guaranteed. There was action at both ends, with Karol Świderski fractions away from getting on the end of Przemysław Frankowski’s defence splitting cross from the right.

Rob Page made one change from last week's demolition of Finland, citing Kieffer Moore’s physicality as invaluable against an experienced Polish back line. He certainly showed off that attribute, rising highest to nod over from close range as he got on the end of Harry Wilson’s corner.

With everything at stake, both sides looked cautious going forward and were without a shot on target during the first half, before captain Ben Davies thought he had delivered a huge goal on the stroke of half time.

Match stats
Match statsFlashscore

One of only two surviving members of the Euro 2016 squad, Davies converted Moore’s knockdown with aplomb, before diverting his attention to the linesman who cruelly raised his flag for offside.

It took a world class Wojciech Szczęsny save to keep the scores level three minutes after the break, with Moore causing problems yet again aerially. It was Neco Williams’ free kick from deep that found the targetman’s head, but with the ball looping towards the top corner out came a firm Szczęsny right hand to tip the ball around the post.

With the game edging towards the prospect of extra-time, it looked like an uncharacteristically quiet night for Polish talisman Robert Lewandowski, still without a goal in his four appearances against Wales after scoring only two in his last six elsewhere.

He would have an extra 30 minutes to find a breakthrough after his sighter from distance in the closing stages of normal time flashed the wrong side of the post.

The game only showed glimpses of opening up, as both sides knew the potential consequences of expansive football. But when the ball was turned over after Szczęsny clawed away a Davies cutback, a Polish counter attack followed. The ball was recycled to Jakub Piotrowski on the edge of the box, who unleashed a curling effort agonisingly wide of the far post.

An open play goal was beyond both sides, who limped wearily to penalties to decide a summer meeting with France, the Netherlands and Austria in a daunting group.

Poland will be at Euro 2024
Poland will be at Euro 2024AFP

Poland were handed a psychological edge as Chris Mepham was given his marching orders in added time, which turned out to be the case as James’ tame penalty was saved by Szczęsny to send his side to an 11th consecutive International tournament.

Flashscore Player of the Match: Wojciech Szczęsny (Poland)


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