Ukraine, Poland and Georgia grab final group slots for Euro 2024

March 27 – Ukraine came from behind to beat Iceland and in two nerve-shredding penalty shootouts Poland beat Wales away from home and Georgia edged Greece to qualify for a first ever major finals as an independent nation on a dramatic night of European action on Tuesday.

The 24-nation Euro 2024 line-up was finalised as the playoff finals provided a strong Eastern European addition to the tournament that opens on June 14 in Germany.

Mykhailo Mudryk’s sweeping low shot in the 84th minute lifted Ukraine to a 2-1 victory over Iceland and a second late comeback win in the playoffs for the war-torn country.

The ‘home’ game for Ukraine was played in neutral Poland because international matches cannot be played in the country for security reasons during the war against Russia.

Ukraine fans displayed yellow-and-blue banners criticising Russia and its president Vladimir Putin in the stadium in Wroclaw.

“I’m very proud to be Ukrainian, to be of the same blood as those who are now giving their lives for our freedom,” said Ukraine captain Oleksandr Zinchenko. “We need to talk about it, shout about it every day. This is the only way we can win. “It was one of our most emotional games.”

Georgia will make their major tournament debut after beating Greece 4-2 in a shootout following a nervy 0-0 draw in Tbilisi, prompting wild celebrations in a 50,000 crowd with fans pouring to the pitch afterwards.

“I have never had such an emotion in my life,” said Georgia talisman Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.

Georgia followed North Macedonia, a debutant at Euro 2020, in taking the path opened by UEFA for a lower-ranked team to rise to the big stage via their results in the Nations League competition.

Poland’s 5-4 shootout win in Cardiff, also after a 0-0 draw, meant heartbreak for Wales and a passionate home crowd as Wojciech Szczesny pushed away the final penalty taken by Dan James.

Poland have played at every Euros edition since star forward Robert Lewandowski made his national team debut in 2008, including as co-host with Ukraine at Euro 2012. They will now go into a tough group with France, the Netherlands and Austria.

Ukraine are paired with Belgium, Romania and Slovakia while Georgia will meet Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, Turkey and the Czech Republic.

Contact the writer of this story at oc.ll1721800757abtoo1721800757fdlro1721800757wedis1721800757ni@wa1721800757hsraw1721800757.werd1721800757na1721800757