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Update Euro 2020 Qualifying Playoffs:Scotland, Hungary, Slovakia, North Macedonia seal berth

Euro 2020 Qualifying Playoffs: Scotland, Hungary, Slovakia, North Macedonia seal berth in tournament

[Image: scotland-1605237411.jpg]

Scotland gave up a 90th-minute equalizer before winning a tense penalty shootout to reach its first major tournament in 22 years. Hungary scored two late goals to beat Iceland 2-1. Slovakia also lost its lead late but scored an extra-time winner.

North Macedonia had a smoother ride through the European Championship playoffs Thursday in the earlier kickoff and will make its major tournament debut next year.

The 24-team lineup was completed for the pandemic-delayed Euro 2020 with four playoffs that served up plenty late-game drama in almost entirely empty stadiums.

All three later games passed the 87th minute with the away team leading 1-0 and home advantage counting for little in the COVID-19 era. All three were level three minutes later, though Hungary was the only home team that advanced in the end.

Scotland scored all five penalties in the shootout after a 1-1 draw against Serbia, before goalkeeper David Marshall saved the home team's final spot kick from Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Hungary trailed against Iceland from the 11th minute until leveling in the 88th, before Dominik Szoboszlai ran on and rifled a low shot to seal the stunning victory in stoppage time in Budapest.

Slovakia also took an early lead at Northern Ireland, gave it up with an own goal in the 88th, then saw the home team strike a post in stoppage time. Slovakia advanced 2-1 with a 110th-minute goal by Michal Ďuriš.

North Macedonia’s 1-0 win at Georgia was earned by 37-year-old captain Goran Pandev’s goal early in the second half.

The biggest winners were Hungary and Scotland. They are among the 12 host nations scattered across Europe and now get two home games in the group stage next June.

Currently ranked No. 65 by FIFA, North Macedonia joins Finland as the only major tournament newcomers next year.

The qualifying format guaranteed a tournament place for a low-ranked country that won a group in the bottom tier of the inaugural Nations League played two years ago.

The four Nations League tiers fed into four playoff brackets, giving second chances to teams which did not advance through traditional qualifying groups last year.

The playoffs were originally scheduled for March but were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic which also forced UEFA to delay Euro 2020


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