Austria qualify for Euro 2024 as Ronaldo double helps Portugal romp

Sports Desk, Oct 17 (EFE).- Cristiano Ronaldo struck a brace as Portugal thrashed Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 in Zenica on Monday to maintain their perfect record in the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with eight wins out of eight matches.

Austria capitalized the most on the night to edge past Azerbaijan 1-0 away from home to ensure they would finish at least runners-up in Group F, earning their qualification for the tournament for the third time in a row.

They joined Spain, Turkey, Scotland, France, Belgium, and Portugal, who confirmed their place in the final round of Euro 2024 days ago, and hosts Germany.

The Central European side dominated the first half in Baku but was unable to find the back of the net until Borussia Dortmund midfielder Marcel Sabitzer entered the field at the beginning of the second half.

Austria were awarded a penalty in the 48th minute after a handball, and Sabitzer stepped in to calmly slot the ball home, deceiving goalkeeper Shakhrudin Magomedaliyev with a powerful low shot.

Austria finished with 10 men, as Guido Burgstaller received a second yellow card in the added time.

But it did not cost the team much, as they claimed their fifth victory in the qualifying campaign to join Belgium in the final round from the Group F.

Belgium played against Sweden on the night, but the game was abandoned at half-time following a suspected terrorist attack in Brussels, with the two teams locked at 1-1.

European football’s governing body, UEFA, said further communication regarding the match would be made in due course.

At Zenica, about 70 kilometers from the capital, Sarajevo, Portugal put on a clinical performance, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty putting them in front after just five minutes.

Spanish coach Roberto Martínez’s star man scored his second goal soon to take his record international tally to 127, while Bruno Fernandes and Joao Cancelo were also on target in the first half.

Joao Felix added a fifth before the break to complete the rout.

Virgil van Dijk struck from a penalty in the stoppage time of the second half to give the Netherlands a crucial 0-1 win over Greece, which raised their chance to finish as runners-up in Group B behind already-qualified France.

Slovakia also remained on course to finish second behind Portugal in Group J for their third straight European Cup appearance after a late Dávid Duris strike earned them a 1-0 win in Luxembourg.

Ireland beat Gibraltar 4-0 while Iceland recorded an identical win over Liechtenstein in the other qualifying contests on Monday.

Twenty teams will qualify for the finals in Germany through the group stage, while another three will join the hosts through the play-offs. EFE


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