FRANKFURT: Romania’s Razvan Marin scored a first-half penalty to cancel out Ondrej Duda’s headed goal for Slovakia as the teams played out a 1-1 Euro 2024 Group E draw to both reach the last 16.

All four sides in Group E finished on four points, with Romania earning top spot on goals scored from Belgium, and Slovakia ending third, ahead Ukraine on goal difference.

Romania reached the knockout stages of the Euros for the first time since 2000, while for Slovakia it will be a second appearance in the last 16 after 2016, when they lost to Germany.

Marin said: “It means a lot, we are happy, we have achieved our goal, this was our goal from the very beginning. Now, there will be a knockout game and it will be something completely different.”

Team mate Ianis Hagi said no-one in the squad was surprised to have reached the knockout stages, adding: “Our coaches have raised us, they know our characteristics, they know our personality, we are winners.”

The match was played in a feverish atmosphere, with the fervour in the stands matched by the helter-skelter nature of a match that was not high on quality, but had plenty of entertainment and intrigue.

The teams came into the game knowing a draw would be enough to send both through and there was talk in the build-up of the potential for them to contrive that, something the coaches denied vehemently.

Certainly, there was no lack of energy and endeavour, which slowed only towards the end of the game.
Slovakia opened the scoring midway through the first half with the simplest of goals that will have left Romania coach Edward Iordanescu fuming.

Juraj Kucka curled in a cross from the right and Duda was left unmarked between two defenders to head across goal and into the net.

Romania were restricted to shots from range, none of which troubled Slovakia goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

That was until they were awarded a penalty when Hagi was felled by Slovakia defender David Hancko.
German referee Daniel Siebert initially gave a free kick as the contact looked outside the box, but the Video Assistant Referee booth ruled it was inside.

Marin made no mistake with the spot-kick as he rifled it into the top corner, signalling a thunderous eruption of joy from the Romanian fans in the stadium, who appeared to outnumber their Slovak counterparts by four to one.

Lukas Haraslin’s storming run down the left wing created a shooting chance, but his fierce effort was straight at Romania goalkeeper Florin Nita.

The Romanian fans sang non-stop through the second half, only pausing momentarily when lightning struck near the stadium, creating a massive clap of thunder not even they could drown out.

The chances continued, with handling made more difficult for the goalkeepers by a sudden torrential downpour as the heat turned to driving rain, but both sets of supporters were left to celebrate wildly at the final whistle.

Slovakia defender David Hancko said: “It was definitely a sweet draw for us. We deserve to go through. We gave everything in this game. We tried to win the game, to win the group, but it did not happen.”