Slovenia inch closer to Euro 2024
Slovenia completed a key step towards securing a berth in the Euro 2024 as they defeated Finland 3:0 (2:0) at home in the seventh round of qualifying on 14 October, reaffirming their position at the top of their group.
Lepizig forward Benjamin Šeško opened the scoring with a penalty shot in the 16th minute after a foul against Andraž Šporar in the Finnish penalty area.
The same two players arranged the second goal in the 28th minute, when Šporar stole the ball in the middle of the field and completed a long pass towards Šeško, who made it 2:0 with a diagonal shot to the delight of the capacity crowd at the Stožice Stadium.
The Finnish defence was firmer in the second half and even made two attempts at scoring late into the game, but Slovenia's goalkeeper Jan Oblak saved both.
The score looked settled, but then Erik Janža converted a corner kick into his first goal for the national side.
Slovenian fans cheer on their team in a Euro 2024 qualifier vs Finland. Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA
Matjaž Kek, Slovenia's head coach, praised his team for a well-deserved and big enough win.
"In a great atmosphere, we took a step forward towards our goal against a rival that outplayed us in Helsinki," he said in a reference to Slovenia's losing the away leg against Finland in June, their only loss in the Euro 2024 qualifying.
He said they did quite a few things well on the pitch this time. "We didn't think about the opponent, we focused on our way of playing ... Slovenia are now also scoring goals and have a goalkeeper who is defending when needed."
Slovenia continue to top the Group H rankings ahead of Denmark. Both teams are tied at 16 points but Slovenia have a higher goal difference. The top two teams qualify directly for the final UEFA Euro tournament in Germany.
Finland are third and Kazakhstan fourth at 12 points. Northern Ireland, whom Slovenia will face next in Belfast on 17 October, have 6 points, and San Marino trails with zero.