Slovakia survive scare to seal place at EURO 2016

Luxembourg 2-4 Slovakia Ján Kozák's men ended a run of nearly six hours without a goal to reach their first EURO as an independent nation – but not without a fright.

Watch the goals from a six-goal thriller in Luxembourg, including Marek Hamšík’s double, as the away side confirmed their place at UEFA Euro 2016.<br>
  • Slovakia finish second in Group C and qualify for first EURO as independent nation
  • First win in four means they beat Ukraine to second behind Spain
  • Slovakia end 345 minutes without a goal by scoring three in seven first-half minutes
  • Luxembourg net twice in five minutes midway through the second period
  • As part of Czechoslovakia, Slovakia won the 1976 EURO

Slovakia hit three goals in seven first-half minutes against Luxembourg to clinch progress to their first UEFA European Championship as an independent nation, though only after an almighty scare.

Ján Kozák's team began the night without a goal in over five hours but Marek Hamšík broke the deadlock midway through the first period and the dam of relief burst. Adam Nemec and Róbert Mak quickly made it 3-0 as Vladimír Weiss completed a hat-trick of assists.

That seemed to be that, only for Luxembourg to storm back in the second half. Slovakia just about hung on, and Hamšík sealed it on the counter in added time.

Slovakia celebrate in Luxembourg
Slovakia celebrate in Luxembourg©AFP/Getty Images

The visitors had also looked far from assured in the opening exchanges but Hamšík took the game by the scruff of the neck. Collecting Weiss's pass on the turn, he stepped inside his marker with his right foot and lashed the ball in with his left. After stuttering recent form, the Slovak shackles were broken.

It was soon 2-0 as Weiss broke on the right and sent in a low cross that Nemec tapped in. Barely 60 seconds later it was three in mirror-image fashion as Weiss, on the left this time, teed up Mak. It appeared that Luxembourg would be overrun but they shored up and, just after the hour, launched a shuddering counteroffensive.

Captain Mario Mutsch pulled one back with a speculative deflected effort, then came a penalty converted by the assured Lars Gerson. The Slovakia bench was less calm, even with rivals Ukraine trailing Spain. Hamšík got them over the line, but perhaps not as they had imagined.

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