Romania reaches Euro 2016 with win; Greece beats Hungary
ATHENS, Greece (AP) Romania clinched a spot in next year’s European Championship with a 3-0 away win over Faeroe Islands on Sunday, while Greece beat Hungary 4-3 to avoid a winless qualifying campaign.
Two first-half goals by Constantin Bulescu secured second place in Group F for Romania, behind already qualified Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland drew 1-1 with Finland in Helsinki after allowing a late equalizer by Paulus Arajuuri. Craig Cathcart had put the visitors ahead in the 31st.
At Torshavn, Faeroe Islands, Bulescu opened the scoring in the fourth minute with a powerful shot just inside the area after a cross from the left by Razvan Rat. Budescu’s second came from what seemed to be intended as a cross in first-half stoppage time that looped over goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen and into the net.
In the 83rd, Alexandru Maxim and Bogdan Stanku exchanged quick passes and Maxim beat Nielsen to cap the scoring.
Greece finally ended its miserable run when substitute Panagiotis Kone headed in the winner in the 86th minute.
Coach Costas Tsanas made six changes to the starting lineup from the squad that lost 3-1 to Northern Ireland three days ago, and it seemed to quickly pay off when Costas Stafylidis opened the scoring in the fifth minute. It was Greece’s first home goal in the qualifiers.
However, Hungary soon took over and equalized in the 26th with a header by Gergo Lovrencsics, before Krisztian Nemeth put Hungary ahead from point-blank range in the 55th.
Two minutes later, Panayiotis Tachtsidis met Petros Mantalos’ forward pass and blasted a shot from just inside the area into the net.
In the 76th, Hungary took the lead again. Zsolt Kalmar, who had entered the game five minutes earlier, avoided two Greek defenders and as two more closed in passed to an unmarked Nemeth for an easy goal.
However, three minutes later, Tachtsidis made a defense-splitting pass to Costas Mitroglou who made it 3-3 before Kone scored the winner from Jose Holebas’ cross.
”Definitely a bittersweet victory,” Tsanas said.
Hungary finished third in the group and will have another chance to reach the finals through a playoff game.
”We had always planned for a third-place finish. … Greece was unlucky not to have scored in previous games,” Hungary goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly said.