European Football Championship: A draw, but no disgrace: Slovakia and Romania advance

European Football Championship: A draw, but no disgrace: Slovakia and Romania advance
European Football Championship: A draw, but no disgrace: Slovakia and Romania advance

There was talk of possible collusion before the European Championship match between Slovakia and Romania. There was no sign of this on the pitch. The match ended in a draw, however.

The final whistle was met with a cheer from 47,000 throats, and then the professionals from Romania and Slovakia started a lavish football party together with their fans. With a 1:1 (1:1) draw on the last day of the preliminary round of Group E, both teams have reached the European Championship round of 16 for the second time in history.

“This is the biggest moment in our career so far. I usually start by complimenting my players. This time I want to start with our fans. You only experience something like this once in your life. I am sure there will be celebrations back home in Romania,” said Romania coach Edward Iordanescu full of pathos.

The Slovakians felt the same way. “This is a sweet draw for us. We deserve to go through,” said defender David Hancko. And goalkeeper Martin Dubravka said of their place in the round of 16: “This means so much to everyone in our country and is a reason to celebrate. It’s great.”

In a largely lively game on Wednesday in Frankfurt, where oppressive heat was followed by a violent storm, the rivals achieved exactly the result they needed to advance and both could therefore feel like winners. Former Bundesliga professional Ondrej Duda put Slovakia in the lead in the 24th minute. Razvan Marin (37th) equalized for the Romanians with a penalty after a controversial decision by the video assistant.

Slovakia now against England

Due to the 0-0 draw in the parallel match between Belgium and Ukraine, Slovakia finished the preliminary round in third place in Group E and will face England in the round of 16. Group winners Romania will face the Netherlands.

The signs before the match were clear: a draw was enough for both teams to advance to the round of 16. Before the duel between the two outsiders, there was already speculation about a repeat of the shame of Gijón at the 1982 World Cup, when Austria and Germany agreed to a non-aggression pact in order to advance.

“There could be no talk of an agreement,” wrote the Romanian online portal “adevarul” and stated: “There is also justice in this world.”

Both teams had already shown no interest in passing the ball. “We are professionals. We know that a draw could help us to advance. But that doesn’t mean anything,” said Slovakia coach Francesco Calzona. And Romania coach Edward Iordanescu explained: “We will play to advance and want to finish this group in first place. Then you have a certain advantage in terms of recovery days and the opponent.”

Brave teams instead of a repeat of Gijón

Both teams put their words into action and played boldly forward in the opening phase. Spurred on by the many loud Romanian fans, Andrei Ratiu had the first chance. The shot from the man with the blue hair was blocked by Martin Dubravka in the Slovakian goal. Ianis Hagi put the rebound over the goal. The son of former football star Gheorghe Hagi played from the start for the first time at this European Championship.

Afterwards, the Slovakians also became dangerous in attack. A tricky free kick from Lukas Haraslin flew through the Romanian penalty area, but also past the goal. A short time later, Duda was there with his head.

Controversial penalty leads to equaliser

After conceding the goal, the Romanians initially seemed a little shocked. In the 34th minute, Slovakian defender David Hancko brought Hagi down on the edge of the penalty area. The German referee Daniel Siebert initially awarded a free kick. After being checked by the video assistant, the 40-year-old then pointed to the penalty spot – a controversial decision. “It is a discretionary decision,” said Siebert’s colleague Patrick Ittrich on MagentaTV. Marin converted the penalty safely.

At the start of the second half, both teams remained courageous. When a storm passed over the stadium, both sides had more chances to score. Romania’s goal scorer Marin was denied by Dubravka from distance, and a few moments later Denis Dragus narrowly missed. For Slovakia, David Strelec and Haraslin came very close to making it 2-1.

Source: Stern

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