There were goals and drama aplenty on the final night of Euro 2016 qualifying as Netherlands failed to qualify for the tournament for the first time in over 30 years following defeat to Czech Republic.
Turkey were the beneficiaries as this stunning 86th-minute free-kick from Selcuk Inan secured them automatic qualification as the best third-placed team courtesy of a 1-0 win at home to Iceland, who, along with the Czechs, had already progressed to the Finals prior to this evening’s fixtures.
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The Dutch, who finished third at the World Cup only last year, needed to win in Amsterdam to have any chance of making the playoffs for France after the remnants of the disastrous Guus Hiddink tenure.
But they were three down inside 66 minutes as an own goal from former Manchester United striker Robin van Persie compounded their misery after efforts from Pavel Kaderabek and Josef Sural.
Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Van Persie pulled goals back against the 10-man Czechs, who had Mark Suchy sent off late in the first half, but the damage had been done earlier in the night, and the campaign.
SEE MORE: Robin van Persie own goal video: Netherlands 2-3 Czech Rep – Ex-Man United man compounds Dutch misery
Kazakhstan’s 1-0 triumph over Latvia had massive repercussions around the continent. Islambek Kuat’s goal earned the Kazakh’s their first win in Group A, but was bad news for Norway and Ukraine.
Both countries finished third in their respective groups on the same points as Turkey, but results against the sides finishing bottom do not count, meaning that Fatih Terim’s side avoid the playoffs.
Victory for Norway tonight would have guaranteed them first place in Group H, but they lost 2-1 in Rome as Southampton target man Graziano Pelle completed Italy’s comeback with this smart strike.
Croatia join the 1968 champions in France courtesy of their narrow 1-0 win in Malta. This deflected strike from Inter Milan winger Ivan Perisic separated the sides and consigned Norway to the playoffs.
Elsewhere in that group, Bulgaria ended a disappointing campaign by knocking off Azerbaijan 2-0, which was also the scoreline as Wales celebrated their qualification with a home win over Andorra.
Gareth Bale, aptly, had the last word with his seventh goal in 10 matches five minutes from time, after Arsenal star Aaron Ramsey had broken Andorra’s resolve with a 50th-minute opener in Cardiff.
SEE MORE: Aaron Ramsey goal video & report: Wales 2-0 Andorra – Arsenal midfielder stars with strike & assist
But Chris Coleman’s side have to settle for second in Group B after Belgium beat Israel 3-1 – Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne and Chelsea winger Eden Hazard were both on the scoresheet.
Israel’s defeat opened the way for Bosnia-Herzegovina to snatch the playoff place ahead of them and Cyprus, who led twice in Nicosia before Milan Duric’s snatched the Bosnians a crucial 3-2 win.
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