CHISINAU: Albania qualified for Euro 2024 with a 1-1 draw away to Moldova in Group E after the home side kept alive their hopes of reaching the finals with a late equaliser.

Albania opened the scoring with a 25th minute penalty after Ioan-Calin Revenco fouled Taulant Seferi and Sokol Cikalleshi sent his spot kick into the bottom right corner of the net.

The hosts pushed hard for an equaliser after the break with Albania goalkeeper Etrit Berisha pulling off some fine saves, but in the 87th minute Vladyslav Baboglo’s low shot from close range finally gave the Moldova fans reason to celebrate.

Albania’s qualification effort began with a 1-0 defeat in Poland in March but they have since gone unbeaten, winning four games and drawing twice to reach 14 points, and can secure top spot with a win at home against lowly Faroe Islands on Monday.

Moldova are now in third place, level on 10 points with Poland and a point behind Czech Republic, and can still qualify.

Czech midfielder Tomas Soucek cancelled out a first-half opener by Poland’s Jakub Piotrowski to earn an 1-1 away draw in their own Group E qualifier.

Poland took the lead in the 38th minute through Piotrowski, who netted from close range for his debut goal in his second appearance for the national team.

Midfielder Soucek equalized for Czech Republic after the break with a low shot towards the far post, prompting Poland to search for a winner but despite some good chances, the hosts were unable to regain the lead.

The Czechs are second on 12 points, two points behind leaders Albania — who qualified with a 1-1 draw away to Moldova earlier on Friday — and one point ahead of third-placed Poland.

They can seal their eighth successive appearance at the Euro finals on Monday when they host Moldova, in fourth on 10 points, needing at least a draw.

Poland, who played their final qualifying match in their bid to make a fifth consecutive Euro finals, still have a chance to see their fate decided in the playoffs.

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