Russia, Slovakia secure places in Euro 2016

Russia, Slovakia secure places in Euro 2016
Updated 13 October 2015
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Russia, Slovakia secure places in Euro 2016

Russia, Slovakia secure places in Euro 2016

LONDON: Russia, who host the World Cup in 2018, made sure they will be guests at France’s party next year when they beat Montenegro to make sure of their place in the Euro 2016 finals on Monday.
On the penultimate night of qualifiers, they were joined by Slovakia, who beat Luxembourg, while Ukraine, Slovenia and Sweden must take their chances in the playoffs.
England become only the sixth side to go through an entire qualifying campaign with a 100 percent record after chalking up their 10th successive win by beating Lithuania 3-0 in Vilnius.
Russia beat Montenegro 2-0 in Moscow while Slovakia won 4-2 in Luxembourg and with the final three groups to be completed on Tuesday, 18 teams, including France, are now assured of a place in next year’s expanded 24-team tournament.
Either Norway or Croatia will seal their automatic place alongside Italy when Group H concludes on Tuesday while Hungary could qualify as the best third-placed team from the nine groups.
The team ranked in that position joins the other automatic qualifiers with the other eight third-placed teams heading into November’s two-legged playoffs.
The draw for the playoffs takes place on Sunday.
But both Russia and Slovakia avoided that ordeal by winning on Monday.
Russia booked their place with victory over Montenegro at the Otkrytie Arena in Moscow with Oleg Kuzmin scoring his first goal for his country after 33 minutes and Alexander Kokorin adding a second with a penalty shortly afterwards.
Russia qualified in second place in Group G behind unbeaten Austria, with Sweden finishing third.
Russia’s qualification had looked in the balance when Fabio Capello was still head coach but his replacement Leonid Slutskiy guided Russia to four wins, beginning with a vital defeat of Sweden.
“The final step is always the hardest, but the players were excellent,” said a delighted Slutskiy.
“They managed to turn around what was turning out to be a qualification process which was running out of hope.”
Slovakia collected their ticket with their win in Luxembourg while Ukraine’s faint hopes of pipping them for second spot behind defending champions Spain in Group C ended when Spain beat them 1-0 in Kiev on the pitch where Spain won the 2012 final against Italy.
Full back Mario Gaspar scored with a header on his debut while Cesc Fabregas, making his 100th appearance for his country, had a penalty saved.
Slovakia are now set to make their first trip to the Euros as an independent nation but had a few nervous moments after racing into a 3-0 lead.
Luxembourg hit back twice before Marek Hamsik scored his second of the night in stoppage time to clinch a 4-2 win.
Austria and England, both going into their last matches unbeaten, preserved those records with Austria beating Liechtenstein 3-0 in Vienna to wrap up their Group G campaign with nine wins and a draw from their 10 games, but England did even better.
England won 3-0 in Lithuania to become the only team in the qualifying competition to finish with a 100 percent record after 10 successive wins to join an elite band of France (1992 and 2004 qualifying), Czech Republic (2000), Germany (2012) and Spain (2012) as the only other nations to end a Euro qualifying campaign with a perfect record.