Turkey reach Finals but it’s heartbreak for Holland

Holland have failed to make the Finals of the European Championships for the first time since 1984, whilst Turkey have qualified automatically.

With the Czech Republic and Iceland already through the Finals in France as Group A winners and runners-up respectively, it was between the Turks and the Dutch to battle it out for third position. But in a game they simply had to win the latter found themselves 3-0 down against the Czechs on 66 minutes, who by this time had seen Marek Suchy sent off before half-time.

Danny Blind’s side did forge a late fight back, but goals from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Robin van Persie – who had earlier scored an own-goal – was ultimately fruitless as Oranje couldn’t turn the game on its head. This means they have failed to reach the Euros for the first time since 1984, ironically also in France, and a major tournament since the World Cup Finals of 2002.

All this was good news for Turkey who were heading towards a playoff, yet better was to come in the dying moments of their home clash with Iceland. Although they were down to 10 men when Gokhan Tore was sent off in the second half, a late Selcuk Inan free-kick gave them victory and an automatic passage to France as the third-placed side with the best qualifying record.

Belgium ensured they topped Group B with a 3-1 home win which ended Israel’s hopes of making the playoffs. Instead, third place goes to Bosnia and Herzegovina who edged out Cyprus in a five-goal thriller. Of course, second place goes to Wales who qualify for a major tournament for the first time since the 1958 World Cup Finals, and they ended with a 2-0 win over Andorra.

In Group H, there was heartbreak for Norway who had started the day looking to qualify for the Finals automatically. And they even topped the group briefly when they led against Italy, but the hosts hit back twice to take the leadership themselves. And with Croatia winning 1-0 in Malta, the Norwegians must now face a two-legged playoff to fight for their place in France.

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