A second-half goal from Denmark midfielder Thomas Delaney ensured his side’s qualification for Euro 2024 as the Danes secured a 2-1 home win over Slovenia on Friday that ensures they will finish top of Group H.
The Danes have 22 points from nine games, three ahead of Slovenia, who cannot overtake them even if they beat third-placed Kazakhstan, who have 18 points, in their final game on Monday due to their inferior head-to-head record against the Danes.
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Denmark dominated throughout and almost opened the scoring in the 12th minute when Jonas Wind got a towering header on target but Slovenia goalkeeper Jan Oblak made the first of a string of fine saves to deny him.
Wing back Joakim Maehle, who had an early effort ruled out for offside, broke the deadlock in the 26th minute as he ghosted in at the far post to score with a superb half-volley.
That jolted the visitors into life and they quickly levelled as fullback Erik Janza beat keeper Kasper Schmeichel with a tremendous free kick from the edge of the box on the half hour.
Denmark striker Yussuf Poulsen wasted a couple of decent chances early in the second half but that merely set the scene for Delaney, whose World Cup last year was ended due by a knee injury, to become the hero.
With the Slovenians struggling to deal with Denmark’s height and power at set pieces, Jannick Vestergaard’s clever headed flick found Delaney on the edge of the six-yard box and he rifled the ball home to send the Copenhagen crowd into ecstasy.
Slovenia’s goal proved to be their only effort on target in the game and the Danes, European champions in 1992, continued to dominate possession as they held on comfortably to win the game and book their spot at a 10th Euro finals.
The Danes, who crashed out of last year’s World Cup at the group stage, celebrated by donning red t-shirts with the words “See you in Germany Euro 2024” while spraying the contents of gigantic bottles of beer.
“It’s damn big, we’ve dreamed about this since qualification started and I think we played a very good game,” a jubilant Maehle told broadcaster TV2.
“Redemption, this is redemption,” midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg told TV2. “Now we’re going to the Euros in the summer and we can create something really special there.”