LJUBLJANA: Benjamin Verbic scored a late winner as Slovenia secured qualification for the Euro 2024 finals in Germany, but opponents Kazakhstan will have to earn their place through March’s playoffs following the 2-1 loss in Ljubljana.

Slovenia finish runners-up in qualification Group H behind Denmark on head-to-head record. Their only previous appearance at the continental finals came in 2000, while their last visit to a major tournament was the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Kazakhstan needed victory for a first ever qualification, but knew they had secured a playoff spot at least before kick-off following their promotion to League B of the 2024-25 Nations League.

Slovenia were awarded a penalty late in the first half after a Video Assistant Referee review when Yan Vorogovskiy fouled Petar Stojanovic in the box. Benjamin Sesko comfortably converted the spot-kick.

Kazakhstan made the perfect start to the second half as Ramazan Orazov scored his first international goal on 48 minutes, ghosting into space in the box as he turned in Maksim Samorodov’s low cross.

Slovenia’s Jaka Bijol had his shot blocked on the line by Islambek Kuat, but the home side got their winner with four minutes remaining when Verbic curled a shot into the corner of the net to spark wild scenes of celebration.

The other match saw Northern Ireland score two second-half goals in Belfast to beat Group H winners Denmark.

The Danes, who made seven changes to the starting line-up that secured qualification in a 2-0 win over runners-up Slovenia on Friday, finished top of the six-team group on 22 points, level with the Slovenians and 13 ahead of Northern Ireland.

The home side had precious few efforts on goal until Isaac Price crowned their best move of the game with a cool finish on the hour mark, punctuating a slick passing sequence by stroking the ball past Kasper Schmeichel.

Dion Charles netted the second in the 81st minute, ghosting in at the back post to slam home substitute Conor McMenamin’s low ball across the box to cement his side’s third victory of the campaign following two wins against San Marino.

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