Serbia have qualified for Euro 2024 – their first Euros finals berth as an independent nation – after a nervy 2-2 home draw against Bulgaria in their final Group G game on Sunday.
Stojkovic’s team was aware that earning a single point would suffice, even if Montenegro managed to defeat the already qualified Hungary. Despite Montenegro taking the lead in Budapest, they ended up losing 3-1. On the other hand, Serbia found themselves trailing in the second half, but Babic’s late goal secured their spot in the next round.
At first, it seemed easy for the home team as Milos Veljkovic scored with a header in the 16th minute. However, fans in Leskovac started to feel anxious when Montenegro’s Slobodan Rubezic scored in the first half, which was about 500 miles away.
Bulgaria, currently at the bottom of their group and still looking for their first victory, made a comeback in the second half. Georgi Rusev scored the equalizer in the 59th minute with an impressive shot. Kiril Despodov, who had narrowly missed a goal in the first half, surprised the home fans by scoring a goal 10 minutes later, lifting the ball over Vanja Milinkovic-Savic and giving the visitors the lead.
Serbia received good news as Dominik Szoboszlai scored two goals in just two minutes, giving Hungary the lead. In the 82nd minute, Babic also scored a close-range header, resulting in a draw and sparking celebrations.
In blustery Brussels, Romelu Lukaku netted four goals in just 20 minutes of the first half, leading Belgium to a dominant 5-0 win over a 10-man Azerbaijan team in Group F. Lukaku showcased his precise scoring skills, bringing his total to 14 goals in eight matches and securing Belgium’s spot at the top of the group. Azerbaijan ended up in fourth place.
In the 37th minute, the home team had a 4-0 lead due to an early red card for Eddy Israfilov of Azerbaijan, who received a second booking for a reckless tackle on Lukaku. Despite a late goal from Leandro Trossard, it was Belgium’s captain, Lukaku, who led the charge with 83 international goals in 113 games before being substituted at half-time.
In the previous match of Group F, Sweden emerged victorious with a score of 2-0 against Estonia. This game marked the end of Janne Andersson’s seven-year tenure as the manager of Sweden, which ended on a high note with goals from Viktor Claesson and Emil Forsberg.
In the last Group A game, Spain’s Robin Le Normand and Ferran Torres both scored, while an own goal by Luka Lochoshvili added to their victory of 3-1 against Georgia. With seven wins out of eight matches and a total of 21 points, the hosts secured first place. Their only defeat was against second-place team Scotland, who finished with 17 points after a 3-3 tie with Norway.
In the fourth minute of the game, Spain took the lead with a free-kick from Torres on the left. Le Normand headed the ball into the net, scoring his first goal for the national team. However, Georgia quickly equalized six minutes later with a swift counterattack and an easy finish from Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. Spain suffered another setback when their midfielder Gavi, who plays for Barcelona, had to leave the field in tears due to a possible serious knee injury. But Spain managed to regain the lead in the second half, with Torres scoring again with a header ten minutes into the half. In the 72nd minute, Lochoshvili accidentally scored an own goal, sealing the victory for the home team.
The injury of Gavi was described by Spain’s coach, Luis de la Fuente, as a tough and challenging situation. It not only affects the player, but also Barcelona, the federation, the national team, and his teammates. The coach and the team are devastated by the news, with the atmosphere in the locker room resembling a loss. However, this is a common aspect of soccer – its unpleasant side.
Portugal earned a 10th win from 10 games to finish off a perfect qualification campaign via a 2-0 victory against Iceland. Bruno Fernandes scored the opener in the first half before the substitute Ricardo Horta doubled the hosts lead on 66 minutes.
Slovakia, the Group J runners-up, ended their campaign with a 2-1 triumph over Bosnia and Herzegovina. They came from behind to secure the win, with Robert Bozenik and Lubomir Satka scoring on either side of Renato Gojkovic’s red card for the home team. Despite being reduced to 10 men early on due to Danel Sinani’s red card, Luxembourg managed to defeat Liechtenstein 1-0.