Final four teams qualify for Euro 2012

Portugal, Croatia, Ireland and the Czech Republic go through to round up 16-team lineup for next year's championship.

    Croatia was able to inflict revenge on a Turkish side that spectacularly knocked them out of Euro 2008 [GALLO/GETTY]

    Portugal, Croatia, Ireland and the Czech Republic all booked their places at the UEFA European Championships next year in the final qualifying matches, completing the line-up for the continent's biggest international football tournament.

    Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as he led Portugal to a 6-2 thumping of 10-man Bosnia-Herzegovina in the second leg of a playoff tie, securing progress by the same aggregate score.

    Croatia held Turkey to a 0-0 draw in Zagreb, securing a 3-0 aggregate win in the process and dashing Turkish hopes of making it to Euro 2012.

    The Czech Republic won 1-0 at Montenegro and 3-0 overall, while Ireland completed a 5-1 aggregate win over Estonia with a 1-1 draw in Dublin.

    A hiding in Lisbon

    Playing late in the day on Tuesday, Portugal bagged the last of the 16 places for next year's competition, to be held in Poland and Ukraine.

    Ronaldo scored an eighth-minute free kick, and Nani made it 2-0 with a long-range effort 16 minutes later.

    Zvjezdan Misimovic got a goal back for Bosnia with a penalty awarded for a handball by Fabio Coentrao, but Ronaldo restored his team's two-goal advantage shortly after halftime, beating the offside trap and rounding the goalkeeper to tap the ball into the net.

    Bosnian Senad Lulic saw a red card for dissent a minute later, and Emir Spahic kept Bosnian hopes alive with a goal in the 65th minute. Two goals from Portuguese Helder Postiga and and one from Miguel Veloso ended any hope of a comeback, however.

    Croatia qualified for the fourth time since becoming an independent country in 1991 courtesy of a comfortable 3-0 aggregate lead from their first leg on Friday.

    "This time we were focused until the end and did not let Turkey kick us out as they did in Austria in 2008," Croatia defender Darijo Srna said. "We played a solid game."

    Ireland qualified for a major tournament for the first time in 10 years, adding to its 4-0 first-leg advantage in the 32nd minute when Stephen Ward smashed in a rebound after Estonia goalkeeper Pavel Londak spilled Kevin Doyle's initial header.

    Estonia salvaged some pride in the 57th minute when Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given was beaten by a long-range shot by visiting captain Konstantin Vassiljev.

    The Czech Republic qualified for its fifth straight European Championship when, against the run of play in Podgorica, Petr Jiracek surged past two defenders and scored with a low shot from 10 metres.

    The 81st-minute goal helped maintain the Czechs' record of reaching every European Championship since Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.

    "I think we have deserved it," Czech coach Michal Bilek said. "We played well in the playoffs, especially in the first leg at home."

    The quartet of new qualifiers join Germany, Russia, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Greece, England, Denmark, Spain, Sweden and the two host nations (Poland and Ukraine) in next year's tournament.

    Spain's poor run

    In international friendlies played on Tuesday night, World Champions Spain were held to a 2-2 draw at Costa Rica, while Germany completed an impressive 3-0 win over World Cup finalists the Netherlands.

    Spain's poor recent form in friendly matches continued, with goals in the last eight minutes from David Silva and David Villa saving the world champions' from an embarrassing 2-0 defeat.

    In other friendlies, England defeated Sweden 1-0 to end 2011 unbeaten, Denmark beat Finland 2-1, Italy lost 1-0 to visiting Uruguay, and France was held 0-0 by Belgium.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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