Scotland Secure Euro 2020 Place But Northern Ireland Suffer Heartbreak

Scotland booked their place at Euro 2020 via a penalty shoot-out in Serbia, but there was heartbreak for Northern Ireland as the line-up for the tournament was completed.

Goalkeeper David Marshall was the hero for Scotland, into a major tournament for the first time since 1998, after he saved from Aleksandar Mitrovic to secure a 5-4 shoot-out victory.

Ryan Christie’s 52nd-minute strike appeared to have sent Steve Clarke’s dominant side through until Serbia scored with their first effort on target in the 90th minute through Luka Jovic.

However, the blow proved to be fleeting as Marshall leapt to his left to deny Mitrovic in the 10th penalty of the shoot-out.

Scotland go into Group D, where they will face England, Croatia and the Czech Republic.

There were no such joyous scenes at Windsor Park – at least not from those in green – as Michal Duris’ extra-time goal condemned Northern Ireland to a 2-1 defeat against Slovakia

A dramatic own goal from Milan Skriniar in the 88th minute cancelled out Juraj Kucka’s first-half opener and sent the game into an extra half an hour.

The momentum seemed to be with the hosts but it all changed in the 110th minute when a hopeful through-ball bounced off Jonny Evans and fell kindly for Duris to beat Bailey Peacock-Farrell at his near post.

The Burnley goalkeeper will feel he could have done better, but it was a bitter blow for Northern Ireland as their hopes of qualifying for a second consecutive European Championship were quashed.

Slovakia take on Spain, Sweden and Poland in next year’s tournament.

Iceland, who knocked England out in France four years ago, suffered play-off heartbreak of their own as a pair of late goals consigned them to a 2-1 defeat in Hungary.

Gylfi Sigurdsson gave Iceland the lead after 11 minutes, before Loic Nego looked to have forced extra time when he found the net in the 88th minute.

But Hungary were not finished there and snatched the victory in stoppage time through Dominik Szoboszlai to take their place in a tough-looking Group F – alongside Germany, France and defending champions Portugal.

North Macedonia qualified for the first time after 37-year-old Goran Pandev fired them to a 1-0 win away to Georgia.

Genoa forward Pandev, his country’s record cap holder and goalscorer, made more history by striking early in the second period in Tbilisi, ending the hosts’ own hopes of a maiden appearance in the tournament.

North Macedonia will compete in Group C alongside Holland, Ukraine and Austria.

Published: 13/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub