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Scotland, North Macedonia make the cut for Euro 2020
Scotland qualified for its first European Championship Finals since 1996 after a 5-4 penalty shootout play-off win in Serbia. The match had ended 1-1 after extra time in the Balkan nation’s capital on Thursday.
It was no more than Scotland deserved after dominating much of the contest, with its goalkeeper David Marshall emerging as the hero when he saved Serbia’s final spot-kick taken by striker Aleksandar Mitrovic. Scotland will join Group D that also has England, the Czech Republic and 2018 World Cup runner-up Croatia.
Scotland converted all its penalties before Serbia’s top scorer Mitrovic, who had a forgettable night, aimed a tame shot into the bottom left corner at Red Star’s Rajko Mitic Stadium.
Ryan Christie gave Scotland a 52nd-minute lead with a superb shot on the turn. But, substitute Luka Jovic equalised in the 90th minute when he headed home a Filip Mladenovic corner to force extra time.
Elsewhere, North Macedonia qualified for Euro 2020, the first-ever major tournament in the team’s 27-year history, when a second-half goal from forward Goran Pandev gave it a 1-0 win away to Georgia in its play-off. Pandev, his country’s most capped player and all-time leading scorer, flicked the ball home in the 56th minute of a tense, scrappy match.
Georgia, also hoping to qualify for its first major competition, lost its composure after the goal and never threatened to get back into the game. North Macedonia will face Austria, the Netherlands and Ukraine in Group C.
Slovakia qualifies for tournament proper
Michal Duris struck an extra-time winner as Slovakia stunned Northern Ireland with a 2-1 victory in its qualification play-off.
Slovakia led after 17 minutes as George Saville’s wayward header in midfield proved a perfect through ball for Juraj Kucka, who provided a cool finish. It looked as though that would be the winner until the Irish claimed a dramatic late equaliser when defender Milan Skriniar turned the ball into his own net three minutes from the end of normal time.
But, Duris beat home goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell at his near post with a low drive to seal back-to-back European Championship qualifications for Slovakia. The side will be placed in Group E along with Spain, Sweden and Poland. Hungary also made the cut by defeating Iceland 2-1 in another play-off clash.
RESULTS: Serbia 1 drew with Scotland 1 (Scotland beat Serbia 5-4 on penalties); Georgia 0 lost to North Macedonia 1; Northern Ireland 1 lost to Slovakia 2; Hungary 2 beat Iceland 1.