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Finland qualify for first major football tournament with advance to Euro 2020


After more than 80 years of trying, Finland has finally made it to a major football tournament.

Teemu Pukki of Finland celebrates his goal with teammates Jasse Tuominen, left, and Paulus Arajuuri during the Euro 2020 Group J qualifying match between Finland and Liechtenstein. Source: Associated Press

Its neighbour, Sweden, will be at next year’s European Championship, too.

It was a great night for the Nordic nations as they took the number of teams to seal places in the first ever Europe-wide championship to 12.

The celebrations were most wild in Finland, which ended a run of 32 failed qualifying campaigns for either the World Cup or European Championship stretching back to 1938.

“Oh Finland is, oh Finland is, oh Finland is finally in the men's soccer championship!” Finland’s Prime Minister, Antti Rinne, tweeted after the “Huuhkajat” — as the national team is known at home — beat Liechtenstein 3-0 to guarantee second place behind Italy in Group J with a game to spare.

The top two qualify from each of the 10 groups, with four more teams advancing via the playoffs in March.

Sweden booked its place at Euro 2020 a few hours later by winning at Romania 2-0 to ensure qualification from Group F along with Spain.

It’ll be a sixth straight appearance at the Euros for the Swedes, who were quarterfinalists at last year’s World Cup in Russia.

Denmark, another Nordic country, will have to wait to seal qualification, however, despite beating Gibraltar 6-0 to go top of Group D. With Switzerland winning 1-0 at home to Georgia to move into second place, the group will go down to the final round of matches.

Ireland, in third place, is three points behind Denmark heading into their meeting in Dublin on Monday and would qualify with a win. Switzerland is sure to progress by beating Gibraltar away on the same night.