EURO qualification playoffs: Penalties abound, finals set

EURO qualification playoffs
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Three nations EURO hopes were dashed in penalties as Paths A through D of the qualification playoffs produced finalists for the final four berths.

Those will be awarded on Nov. 12, when the field will be completed for next summer’s EURO.

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Northern Ireland stunned Bosnia and Herzegovina just by getting to penalties, then advanced as did spot-kick survivors Scotland against Israel.

The Republic of Ireland was less fortunate, missing its last two penalties in a loss to Slovakia.


Path A

Bulgaria – Hungary: RB Leipzig’s Willi Orban had the visitors on top after the break. Zsolt Kalmar and Nemanja Nikolics salted away the win, though Bulgaria had a penalty canceled by VAR when it was still 2-0. Georgi Yomov scored late for the hosts, but a 3-1 win sent Hungary to the final.

Iceland – Macedonia: Gylfi Sigurdsson scored twice in the first 34 minutes as Iceland only conceded a VAR-awarded penalty to Alexandru Maxim in a 2-1 home win.


Path B

Bosnia and Herzegovina – Northern Ireland: It finished 1-1 over 120 minutes after Niall McGinn answered Rade Krunic’s opener. Both teams missed the frame once in penalties but Burnley goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell made the lone save of penalties in a 4-3 win, an occasion made more memorable by longtime Southampton and Rangers man Steven Davis becoming the most-capped player in Northern Ireland history.

Slovakia – Republic of Ireland: No one found the net by the end of regulation nor extra time, but the Irish saw an Alan Browne penalty saved and Matt Doherty penalty missed as Jan Gregus of Minnesota United’s penalty stood as the winning spot kick (4-2).


Path C

Norway – Serbia: The Eagles needed extra time to find a 2-1 win through Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who scored both goals and helped keep Erling Haaland and Alexander Sorloth off the board over 120 minutes. Martin Odegaard set up Mathias Normann for an 88th-minute goal to force extra time but that was all Norway could muster at home.

Scotland – Israel: Scoreless over 120 minutes after the sides only managed to put one of 29 combined shots on target, Derby County goalkeeper David Marshall stopped Israel’s first penalty and  all five of Scotland’s shooters scored including John McGinn and Scott McTominay.


Path D

Georgia – Belarus: Just one goal in this one, and it came via a seventh-minute penalty off the boot of Georgia’s Tornike Okriashvili of Anorthosis Famagusta.

North Macedonia – Kosovo: All the goals arrived within 18 first half minutes in the hosts’ 2-1 win. An own goal started the scoring but the visitors had it 1-1 through former Huddersfield Town man Florent Hadergjonaj. The winner came in the 33rd minute, as Darko Velkovski moved North Macedonia within a win of a major moment: it’s first EURO.


Finals (Nov. 12)

Hungary v Iceland
Northern Ireland v Slovakia
Serbia v Scotland
Georgia v North Macedonia