July 21, 2024

EURO 2024: Romania, Slovakia reach last 16 at Euro 2024 after tense draw

 

The final Group E match between Romania and Slovakia ended in a tight 1-1 draw on Wednesday, guaranteeing both teams a spot in the round of 16.
Slovakia took the lead through a first-half penalty kick from Ondrej Duda, but Razvan Marin of Romania equalized just before halftime.
Romania emerged victorious in the group, scoring more goals than Belgium in second place, despite all four teams in the group receiving four points from their three games.
Slovakia advanced in third position due to a greater goal differential than Ukraine, which finished in fourth place.
For Romania, who are playing in the European Championship knockout stages for the first time in 24 years, it was a historic occasion.

In their five Euro appearances, Romania had only once advanced to the round of 16, but Edward Iordanescu’s determined team had put an end to that lengthy run.
They mounted a combative display in response to Iordanescu’s pre-match challenge to create “history,” spurred on by their army of boisterous supporters who transformed the stadium into a sea of yellow.
For the third time in history, Slovakia has advanced to the main tournament’s knockout stages.
They qualified for the round of 16 in both the 2010 World Cup and the 2016 European Championship.
Cynics had predicted that both teams would grind out a mutually advantageous draw, knowing that a draw would advance both teams.

But Romania was off to a flying start and showed no signs of relenting.
When Andrei Ratiu’s blistering strike was deflected by Martin Dubravka and Ianis Hagi smashed the rebound over the bar, they looked to have taken the lead early on.

– Romania mosh-pit –

Marin missed a long-range free kick with a narrow miss late in the game as Romania attempted to build on their early lead.
Lukas Haraslin’s free kick almost slipped in at the far post, going through a mass of players and putting Slovakia just inches from taking the lead.
Romania disregarded the warning, and Slovakia took the lead in the twenty-fourth minute.
With the Romanian defense frozen in place, Juraj Kucka sent in a deep cross that allowed the unmarked Duda to power his header past Florin Nita from eight yards away.
Romania responded forcefully, leveling the score in the 37th minute after a cutting raid by the son of former Real Madrid and Barcelona player Gheorghe Hagi.

VAR awarded a penalty for David Hancko’s foul on Hagi, even though referee Daniel Siebert first said the foul had occurred just outside the area.
The multitude of Romanian supporters in the arena transformed into a wild mosh-pit as Marin stepped up to drill the spot-kick high into the net’s roof.
In the second half, the intense heat of Frankfurt gave way to a fierce storm filled with rain, lightning, and thunder.

The dramatic setting was appropriate for the tense match, which nearly went Romanian’s way when Marin forced Dubravka into a good save and Denis Dragus skimmed the net.
Though there was no winner, both teams celebrated making it to the knockout stage when Haraslin’s curler sailed past the far post as the storm subsided.

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