The Hungarian national football team secured their spot in the upcoming finals of Euro Cup 2024 through a dramatic turn of events in their match against Bulgaria. The crucial moment occurred during stoppage time when an own goal from Bulgaria's Alex Petkov leveled the score at 2-2 in Sofia.
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The visitors, requiring only a point to qualify, found themselves trailing 2-1 before Petkov unintentionally directed a cross off the top of his head into his net in the 97th minute, delivering an electrifying finish to the game.
Amid the jubilant celebrations of the Hungarian players, the match unfolded in an eerie atmosphere within an empty stadium due to concerns about potential protests against the head of the Bulgarian football federation.
However, the absence of spectators did not prevent external unrest, as Bulgarian fans expressed their discontent through protests outside the venue. Unfortunately, the demonstrations escalated into clashes, resulting in injuries to ten supporters and five police officers. Law enforcement employed water cannons to disperse crowds angered by their national team's lack of progress.
The drawn match granted Hungary a total of 15 points from seven games in Group G of European qualifying, securing their qualification two points ahead of Serbia. Meanwhile, in Bratislava, Slovakia showcased a strong performance, defeating Iceland 4-2 with Lukas Haraslin contributing two goals. This victory marked Slovakia's qualification for the finals for the third consecutive time.
Hungary and Slovakia now join the ranks of qualified teams, including host nation Euro Cup 2024, as well as Austria, Belgium, England, France, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, and Turkey. In other matches, Spain, already assured of their qualification, comfortably defeated Cyprus 3-1. Young sensation Yamal, who had previously made headlines as Spain's youngest player and scorer in a qualifying match against Georgia, opened the scoring in the fifth minute.
Hungary Euro Team Secures Euro 2024 Spot with Last-Minute Own Goal in Clash Against Bulgaria
In a noteworthy display of skill, Yamal once again stole the spotlight on Thursday, showcasing his prowess by deftly maneuvering past the goalkeeper and delivering a powerful finish. This impressive feat further solidified Spain's commanding presence in the ongoing qualifying campaign. Meanwhile, Hungary's Euro Team faced a challenging scenario, needing just a single point to secure their coveted ticket to the finals in Euro Cup 2024.
Despite the high stakes, the Hungarian team found themselves trailing 2-1 before a pivotal moment unfolded in the 97th minute. Alex Petkov, representing Bulgaria, inadvertently headed the ball into his net, salvaging a draw for Hungary. The players erupted in joy after a tense match played in an empty stadium due to concerns of potential violence. Outside the ground, however, clashes ensued as Bulgarian fans, dissatisfied with their football federation, protested against the ongoing situation, leading to confrontations with the police.
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The hard-fought draw propelled Hungary to a total of 15 points from seven games in Group G of European qualifying, securing their place in the finals with a two-point lead over Serbia. The Hungarian team now joins a prestigious list of qualified teams, including host nation Euro Cup 2024, as well as Austria, Belgium, England, France, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, and Turkey for next year's finals.
Notably, Hungary's performance was largely directed by Liverpool midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai, who played a pivotal role in their gameplay. The team initially took the lead in the 10th minute through Martin Adam, only to be leveled by Spas Delev's goal for Bulgaria in the 24th minute.
Despite a hard-fought game and Bulgaria gaining the advantage with a penalty from Kiril Despodov, the tide turned in Hungary's favor with the unfortunate own goal from Petkov, securing Hungary's qualification for their third consecutive European Championship.
The qualifying match, however, was marred by violent clashes outside the empty stadium in Bulgaria. Disturbing scenes unfolded as Bulgarian fans hurled makeshift bombs, stones, and plastic bottles at the police. In response, law enforcement used a water cannon after trash cans were set ablaze in the capital of Sofia, resulting in reported injuries among the protesters.
Bulgarian Soccer Federation Protests and Hungary's Euro Team Last-Minute Qualification Drama
Amid widespread dissatisfaction with the management of the Bulgarian soccer federation, thousands of supporters took to the streets to express their frustration, attributing the national team's poor performance to the administrative decisions made by federation officials.
Adding fuel to the fire, the decision to host the match against Hungary Euro Squad in an empty stadium only intensified the discontent among the fans. The Bulgarian national team, enduring nearly two decades without qualification for a major tournament, had suffered recent defeats to Albania in a friendly and Lithuania in qualifying matches, prompting calls for a nationwide protest and demands for the resignation of officials.
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As tensions reached a boiling point, Bulgaria appeared poised to secure its first qualifying victory against Hungary. Defender Alex Petkov, however, inadvertently put the ball in his own net seven minutes into added time, resulting in a dramatic 2-2 draw. This crucial point proved to be the lifeline Hungary needed to secure its spot at Euro 2024 in Euro Cup 2024.
The initial lead for Hungary came from Martin Ádám in the 10th minute, but the hosts mounted a comeback with goals by Spas Delev in the 24th and Kiril Despodov via a penalty kick in the 79th. The match saw both teams reduced to 10 men, with Valentin Antov receiving a second yellow card for Bulgaria in the 37th minute and Hungary's Milos Kerkez seeing his second yellow in the 57th.
The result left Hungary two points ahead of Serbia after seven matches in Group G. Montenegro, in third place with eight points, was set to face Lithuania later Thursday, with the outcome impacting Serbia's chances of securing a spot in the upcoming tournament. If Montenegro fails to beat the already-eliminated Lithuania, Serbia will secure its place. Despite the intense competition, last-place Bulgaria remained with two points.
Euro 2024 Qualification Journeys: Hungary's Rollercoaster Ride and Scotland's Thrilling Finish
Guided by Italian coach Marco Rossi, Hungary had previously missed an opportunity to qualify in the preceding match against Lithuania, drawing 2-2 after falling behind by two goals. The journey to Euro 2024 proved to be a rollercoaster for Hungary, culminating in a dramatic draw against Bulgaria and securing their place in the highly anticipated tournament.
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Scotland, having already secured their qualification, added an exclamation point to their campaign with a hard-fought draw against Georgia. The match witnessed a thrilling turn of events, with substitute Lawrence Shankland becoming the hero three minutes into second-half stoppage time by netting a crucial goal. Scott McTominay had earlier put Scotland on the scoreboard with a goal in the 49th minute.
The resilient Georgia side, however, made their presence felt, as Khvicha Kvaratskhelia displayed his prowess by scoring in the 15th and 57th minutes. Despite the challenges posed by the hosts, Scotland showcased their determination and strategic gameplay, ensuring they left Georgia with a valuable draw that solidified their qualification for Euro 2024.
This performance not only highlights Scotland's consistency and skill but also sets the stage for their participation in the upcoming European Championship, adding excitement to the anticipation of seeing them compete on the international stage.
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