Slovenia edge closer to Euro 2024 qualification after 3-0 win over Finland

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Slovenia edge closer to Euro 2024 qualification after 3-0 win over Finland

Slovenia have the advantage in Group H
Slovenia have the advantage in Group HAFP
Slovenia moved clear at the top of Group H following a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Finland at the Stozice Stadium. The result extends the hosts’ impressive record in European Championship qualifiers to just one defeat in their last seven matches.

Winless in all three of the previous competitive matches between the two nations (D1, L2), Slovenia took a step towards righting that wrong shortly before the quarter-hour mark as Andraz Sporar drew a clumsy foul from Leo Vaisanen to win an early penalty.

Recalled to Matjaz Kek’s starting XI after playing no part in their 4-0 demolition of San Marino in September, Benjamin Sesko made no mistake from the spot, confidently firing a powerful strike in the right-hand corner beyond Lukas Hradecky to give the hosts the lead.

Coming into the contest sitting just one point behind joint-leaders Slovenia and Denmark, Finland were left with a mountain to climb after only 28 minutes, as Sesko yet again proved his worth, adding the finishing touch to a clinical counter-attacking move by firing a clinical effort into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

Unimpressed by his side’s first-half performance, Finland manager Markku Kanerva pulled no punches at half-time, withdrawing the ineffectual pairing of Benjamin Kallman and Rasmus Schuller.

However, Kanerva’s changes couldn’t prevent Slovenia from stamping their authority on the early stages of the second half, as only a sublime save from Hradecky prevented Sporar from getting his name on the scoresheet.

Key match stats
Key match statsFlashscore

Looking to qualify for their first European Championship finals in over two decades, Slovenia were dealt a blow on the hour-mark as Sesko had to be withdrawn after picking up an injury. Nevertheless, that setback was almost alleviated just 10 minutes later, as Sesko’s replacement, Zan Vipotnik, had the ball in the back of the net.

However, the second-half substitute could only watch in dismay as VAR adjudged the striker to have strayed marginally beyond the shoulder of the last defender in the build-up - subsequently disallowing the goal for offside.

The visitors searched for a late response, but it would be Slovenia who would add late gloss to the scoreline, as Erik Janza fired past a helpless Hradecky in stoppage-time to secure their sixth win from seven Euro qualifying matches this campaign, taking plenty of momentum into their clash against Northern Ireland on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a disappointing loss leaves Finland vulnerable to being overtaken by their upcoming opponents Kazakhstan if Magomed Adiev's side can avoid defeat against Denmark later in the evening.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Benjamin Sesko (Slovenia)

See all the match stats here.

Top three in Group H
Top three in Group HFlashscore

Bulgarian dreams dashed by Lithuania

Lithuania aren't mathematically out of the equation in Group G
Lithuania aren't mathematically out of the equation in Group GAFP

The two bottom sides in Group G, Bulgaria and Lithuania, went head to head without a win and knowing that their chances of qualifying from the group were very thin.

Lithuania came away with a 2-0 win but the result doesn’t help either team in their quest for qualification, as Bulgaria remain on two points and Lithuania only five, which is half as many as Hungary and Serbia in first and second respectively despite having played more games.

See all the match stats and full report here.

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