Sweden, Ireland, Ukraine and Hungary took the final four spots for Euro 2016 after defeating their opponents in the qualification playoffs.
Here’s a quick roundup of how it all went down.
Hungary – Norway (3-1 on aggregate):
Hungary was the first nation to secure a spot after beating Norway 3-1 on aggregate. The Hungarians took a 1-0 win in the the first leg on the road in Oslo after a goal by Laszlo Kleinheisler in the first half. It was Kleinheisler’s first goal for Hungary, as the 21-year-old midfielder played in his second international game.
In the second leg in Budapest at the Ferenc Puskas Stadium, Tamas Priskin got Hungary off to a great start with a goal after just 14 minutes. Even Hovland almost got Norway back in the game shortly before halftime, but his header went off the post. Markus Henriksen that sealed the deal for Hungary after scoring an own goal in the 83rd minute. He did pull one back for the Norwegians a few minutes later, but it was too little too late for Norway. Hungary’s last appearance in a big international tournament was the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
Ireland – Bosnia and Herzegovina (3-1 on aggregate):
Martin O’Neill became the third Irish national team manager in history to take the nation to to the European Championship tournament. Jack Charlton did it back in 1988 and Giovanni Trapattoni in 2012. The Irish got a hard-fought 1-1 draw in the first leg on the road in Zenica at the Bilino Polje Stadium. The game was affected by heavy fog that made conditions difficult. Robbie Brady opened up the scoring in the 82nd minute, but Edin Dzeko tied things up for the Bosnians just three minutes later.
In the second leg, a roaring crowd at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin carried the Irish to a 2-0 win. Jonathan Walters became the hero as he scored both goals in the 2-0 win. The first came off a rather dubious penalty call in the 23rd minute. Walters then put the final nail in the coffin in the 70th minute when he scored his second of the game.
Sweden – Denmark (4-3 on aggregate):
Zlatan Ibrahimovic will get another shot at shining at the big international stage as Sweden edged out Denmark for a spot in Euro 2016. The Swedish captain was the driving force behind Sweden’s success, scoring three goals in the two games against the Danes. In the first leg at Friends Arena in Solna, Emil Forsberg gave Sweden the lead in the 45th minute with his first international goal. Ibrahimovic then made it 2-0 from the penalty spot early in the second half. Denmark did get some hope when Nicolai Jorgensen got the Danes on the scoreboard in the 80th minute.
The Parken Stadium in Copenhagen was filled to the brim in the second leg. It was a seas of red and white, with a little click of blue and yellow. But it would be the away supporters that would get to celebrate as a 2-2 meant that Sweden went through to Euro 2016. Ibrahimovic scored in the 19th minute off a corner kick, and then made it 2-0 with a thunderous free kick in the 76th minute. Denmark came back and tied the game with two late goals by Yussuf Poulsen and Jannik Vestergaard, but it wasn’t enough as Denmark needed two more goals if they were to go through.
Ukraine – Slovenia (3-1 on aggregate):
Ukraine took a commanding grip on the matchup with a 2-0 win in the first leg at home at the Lviv Arena after goals by Andrey Yarmolenko in the 22nd minute and Evgen Seleznov in the 54th minute. Seleznov almost made it 3-0 as he had a shot go off the bar 15 minutes after his goal. Slovenia looked poor and had big difficulties creating anything offensively.
In the second leg, the Slovenians got some hope after Bostjan Cesar scored in the 11th minute with a header from close range. The Slovenians pushed on and Cesar almost got the tying goal that would send the game into overtime late in the game, but instead Ukraine sealed the deal late into stoppage time with a goal by Andrey Yarmolenko.
The draw for the Euro 2016 group stage takes place on Dec. 12. Here are the seeding groups:
Group 1: France (automatically put in Group A as hosts), Spain, Germany, England, Portugal, Belgium.
Group 2: Italy, Russia, Austria, Switzerland, Ukraine, Croatia.
Group 3: Sweden, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary.
Group 4: Turkey, Ireland, Iceland, Wales, Albania, Northern Ireland.