All 24 contestants are scheduled for next summer, about 20 months after the first day of European Championship qualification. The final four qualified on Thursday through the Nations League, which are divided into four power classes.
North Macedonia prevailed in Georgia thanks to a goal from Goran Pandev. The 37-year-old striker consolidated his extraordinary position at home with a historic goal: Pandey, who has played almost continuously in Italy for 19 years, is North Macedonia’s record international (114 games) and top scorer (36). The tournament will begin with the Netherlands, Austria and Ukraine in Group C at the European Championships.
For the first time since 1998, Scotland are playing the final. After the shootout the Scots won in Belgrade against Serbia, in the barrage semi-final against Israel. Goali David Marshall of Derby County, the English second division club, lobbied for the Serb’s fifth attempt after scoring all. The Serb saved himself in extra time thanks to a goal by Luka Djokov in the 90th minute. Qualification is all the better for Scotts as they can play two games in front of their team in Glasgow next summer. The group opponents are England, Czech Republic and Croatia.
Hungary, who are allowed to play home games in the EM hammer group with France, Germany and Portugal, converted 2–1 to 0–1 against Iceland in the last few minutes. In Budapest, French-originated Loïc Nego (88th) and Dominique Szabozlai (92nd) scored decisive goals. It took 2–1 seconds after Hungary stopped the goal for defense at the goal line. For a long time Hungary went in vain after losses. Goalkeeper Peter Gulasi did so by mistake in the 11th minute.
The Slovak were also forced into overtime by a late goal from the Northern Irish in the 88th minute. Milan Skirinar’s own goal of Inter Milan raised hopes for Belfast’s 1000 spectators. But in the final word were the Slovaks, who took the lead through Juraj Kaka for the first time in the 17th minute after a good quarter of an hour. In the 110th minute, Mishal Duris caught Northern Ireland goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell with a shot into the corner near the goal.
Group A (Rome / Baku): Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, Wales
Group B (St. Petersburg / Copenhagen): Belgium, Russia, Denmark, Finland
Group C (Amsterdam / Bucharest): Ukraine, Netherlands, Austria, North Macedonia
Group D (London / Glasgow): England, Croatia, Czech Republic, Scotland
Group E (Bilbao / Dublin): Spain, Poland, Sweden, Slovakia
Group F (Munich / Budapest): Germany, France, Portugal, Hungary
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