Portugal, Russia, Sweden and Turkey became the last four countries to book places at UEFA EURO 2008™ on a dramatic final night of qualifying.
Sychev strike enough
Nowhere was the drama more intense than in Group E where Russia grabbed second place off an England side who, needing just a point to qualify, went down 3-2 at home to Croatia, succumbing to Mladen Petrić's late drive. Dmitri Sychev's solitary strike gave Russia a 1-0 victory in Andorra which proved enough to lift them a point above England, while the impressive Croatians celebrated winning the section.
Portugal secured second place in Group A thanks to a goalless home draw with Finland – a result which ended the visitors' hopes of progress. Luiz Felipe Scolari's men finished a point behind first-time qualifiers Poland, whose 2-2 draw in Serbia means the best Javier Clemente's Serbs can do is to pip Finland to third position by winning their final, rearranged qualifier against Kazakhstan.
Turkey's 1-0 success against Bosnia-Herzegovina ensured them the runners-up slot behind Group C winners Greece, ending Norway's challenge in the process. Although the Scandinavians prevailed 4-1 in Malta, Turkey finished a point clear thanks to Nihat Kahveci's strike. In Group F, meanwhile, Kim Källström's second-half effort earned Sweden the 2-1 home victory against Latvia that they required to claim the runners-up berth behind Spain, whose 1-0 triumph over Northern Ireland extinguished the visitors' hopes in Gran Canaria.
Twelve teams were already sure of their places in the draw in Lucerne on 2 December. Switzerland and Austria had qualified automatically as hosts, and were joined by Germany, holders Greece, the Czech Republic and Romania last month. On Saturday, Poland, world champions Italy, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Croatia also advanced.
Germany will become the first side to feature in ten UEFA European Championships next summer, having played in every tournament since winning the 1972 edition in Belgium as West Germany. They also triumphed in 1980 and 1996, and will be in the hat alongside seven other former champions – Greece (2004), France (1984 and 2000), Netherlands (1988), Czech Republic (1976 as Czechoslovakia), Italy (1968), Spain (1964) and Russia (1960 as USSR).
Portugal were beaten finalists at their own championship in 2004 while Sweden's best campaign came when they reached the last four, also on home soil, in 1992. By contrast, Austria and Poland are in such company for the first time.
NB: Germany includes West Germany; Russia includes USSR; Czech Republic includes Czechoslovakia.
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