Romania & Slovakia sail through perfect storm

Romania and Slovakia played out a 1-1 draw in their final Group E game at the 2024 UEFA European Championship, a result that sees both countries advance to the round of 16 despite having to deal with stormy conditions at the Deutsche Bank Park in Frankfurt.

Despite knowing a draw would send both teams through, the two teams did not play it safe in the first half. Slovakia caused early problems from set-pieces, as Juraj Kucka should have done better with a free header that was comfortably kept out by Florin Niță. Lukáš Haraslín’s dangerous free-kick then somehow evaded everybody, but Kucka’s whipped cross soon led to the game’s opening goal. The 37-year-old found Ondrej Duda with a wonderful ball, and the Hellas Verona man headed back into the far corner, becoming the first Slovak to score in two separate Euros.

However, Romania bounced back quickly when they were awarded a penalty after a VAR check deemed Dávid Hancko’s foul on Ianis Hagi, on his first start for the Tricolorii in a major international tournament, to be inside the area. Răzvan Marin stepped up and made no mistake, lashing the penalty into the top corner and sending Martin Dúbravka the wrong way in the process. As such, the HT level scoreline suited both outfits.

Just as the heavens opened in Frankfurt, Romania almost completed the comeback, as Marin was denied his brace from a fine save by Dúbravka before Denis Drăguș curled just wide. However, Slovakia then had a great double chance of their own, with David Strelec forcing Niță to save with his foot prior to Haraslín firing inches wide of the far post after cutting inside.

The Falcons will be slightly disappointed not to win after taking the lead for the fifth consecutive match, but getting through to the knockouts remained the ultimate goal, while Romania will also be delighted to get it out of the group the Euros for the first time since 2000.

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