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Iceland and Czech Republic qualify for Euro 2016

Lars Lagerback has led Iceland to their first major tournament.
Lars Lagerback has led Iceland to their first major tournament. Reuters/Michael Kooren

Football minnows Iceland will swim with the big fish next year after qualifying for the European Championships in France. Iceland is the smallest nation to play at the tournament since its inception in 1960.

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Iceland and the Czech Republic on Sunday night became the second and third teams to qualify for next year’s European Championships in France. England booked their place on Saturday thanks to a 6-0 thrashing of San Marino.

Iceland advanced to their first major international tournament following a 0-0 draw in Reykjavik against Kazakhstan. The Czechs won 2-1 in Latvia. David Limbersky and Vladimir Darida were on target in the first half. Arturs Zjuzins halved the deficit after 73 minutes but the Czechs held on for the win.

Both Iceland and the Czech Republic have 19 points in Group A. Turkey are third with 12 points following a 3-0 dismissal of the Netherlands.

It was a feisty affair with seven players booked. Turkey were two goals up within half an hour thanks to strikes from Dutch-born Oguzhan Ozyakup and Arda Turan. A Dutch fightback in the second-half failed to materialise and Burak Yilmaz added the gloss four minutes from time to leave Danny Blind’s men staring at the possibility of failing to qualify for the championships for the first time since 1984 and less than a year after reaching the last four of the World Cup in Brazil.

Netherlands next take on Kazakhstan and then face the Czech Republic in their final game. The Dutch have to take all six points and hope that Turkey slip up in their remaining matches.

While Iceland and the Czechs booked their slots at next year’s tournament, Wales were made to wait for the chance to play in their first major international tournament for 58 years.

Needing a win to secure their berth, Wales were held to a goalless draw in Cardiff by Israel.

With two games remaining, Wales still top Group B but are now only one point ahead of Belgium who got past Cyprus 1-0 on Sunday night.

The Chelsea star Eden Hazard hit the winner five minutes from the end.

In Group H, Daniele De Rossi scored the only goal of the game to give Italy the three points that keep them at the top of the pile, two points ahead of Norway who impressively beat Croatia 2-0 in Ullevaal. Both goals came in the second half. Jo Inge Berget got the opener just after the break and Vedran Corluka put through his own net 20 minutes from time to seal the win.

 

 

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