Kazakhstan keep Euro hopes alive after win against gutsy San Marino


Kazakhstan keep Euro hopes alive after win against gutsy San Marino

Kazakhstan celebrate a goal
Kazakhstan celebrate a goalAFP
Kazakhstan kept their hopes of a historic 2024 UEFA European Championship qualification alive as they defeated San Marino 3-1 at the Astana Arena in the country’s capital.

The next few days are arguably the most important in Kazakhstan’s footballing history as they chase a maiden appearance at a major international tournament. Anything other than a Slovenia win against Denmark later on Friday evening would mean two Hawks wins from their remaining two fixtures would see them book an unlikely place at Germany’s showpiece next summer.

With one of those matches coming against European whipping boys San Marino, whose last victory in any game came 19 years ago against fellow minnows Liechtenstein, a showdown with Slovenia in Ljubljana on Monday appeared likely.

La Serenissima, though, produced a huge performance against Denmark during the previous international break, only losing 2-1 while scoring their first away goal since September 2021 and, prior to the interval, they proved difficult to break down. In fact, the hosts only managed three shots on target, and Elia Benedettini was equal to two of them, twice denying Aleksandr Zuyev.

However, unfortunately for him and his teammates, the third attempt found the back of the net, with Islam Chesnokov’s fierce volley midway through the half following one of Benedettini’s duo of saves proving too hot for the goalkeeper to handle.

Kazakhstan were unable to put together any passing moves to slice open the Sammarinese backline but, with a left foot like Chesnokov’s at their disposal, they didn’t need to. The 23-year-old’s second shortly after the break was route-one football, as shot-stopper Igor Shatsky’s long punt was controlled by the forward before he unleashed a pinpoint effort into the bottom corner via the post.

Seemingly in full command of proceedings, it appeared to now be a question of how many goals Magomed Adiyev would plunder. Incredibly, though, San Marino netted in back-to-back games for the first time since 2005 to breathe life back into the contest.

Group H current standings
Group H current standingsFlashscore

Substitute Simone Franciosi was the unlikely goalscorer, getting on the end of Dante Rossi’s header following Lorenzo Capicchioni’s free-kick to instigate wild celebrations amongst the travelling contingent.

San Marino did their best to push forward and find an equaliser, but ultimately, this is a team lacking in quality and they were unable to do so. In the end, Kazakhstan restored their two-goal lead in injury time when Abat Aymbetov converted a penalty after Samuel Pancotti fouled Arman Kenesov in the area.

Still, the visitors can be proud of their display, and their last two results suggest there is hope on the horizon. Their opponents, meanwhile, made hard work of what should have been a simple day at the office, but they will watch Slovenia versus Denmark knowing they have at least done their part.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Islam Chesnokov (Kazakhstan)

Kazakhstan - San Marino player ratings
Kazakhstan - San Marino player ratingsFlashscore

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