EM - Small chance, great joy: Finland celebrates despite defeat

Saint Petersburg (dpa) – When national coach Marco Kanerva was already answering questions from the world press, people were still singing and partying in the vast stadium area.

The Blue and White party group from Finland could not get out of the arena even half an hour after the 2-0 defeat to fellow candidate Belgium. Yellow-jackets-clad Volder tried to end the party peacefully, but when unlucky scorer Lukas Hradecky and the team got back on their feet, the cheers got louder.

First-time arrival Finland lost its last team match. And the probability of reaching the last 16 as one of the top four third parties is not particularly great. Emphasizing his “pride,” Kanerva said after the unrewarding battle between his daring but seemingly determined players.

Third place in the group behind Belgium and Denmark

An own goal by goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky (74th minute) and a goal by world striker Romelu Lukaku (81) settled the second defeat of the Finns, who are third behind Belgium and Denmark, the group winners. “You have to congratulate Finland on the way you defended,” Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said of the very difficult opponent.

Now in the team camp in Zelenogorsk near St. Petersburg you have to hope, fear and tremble in front of the TV. “I feel a little empty,” Kanerva said. “It was very hot today. But these are games we will remember.” He congratulated the still impeccable Belgians on the “deserved victory”.

In the additional schedule of third-party groups, seasons A, B and C already end with the third day of the game. Switzerland (four points, already qualified) and Ukraine (three points, but with a better goal difference) are well ahead of the Finns, who could also hurt the second goal conceded in the final score.

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How will Finland go (3 points, 1: 3 goals)?

…in the remaining three groups, two-thirds of them should land behind the Finns. With Germany and Portugal (with three points and a positive goal difference) already ahead of the Finns in Group F and should be losing a lot, hopes should be directed towards Groups D and E.

…it ended up being third in Group D behind Finland when Croatia and Scotland (both by one) shared the points in a head-to-head duel on Tuesday night (9pm).

… third in Group E finish behind Finland when Spain lost to Slovakia and Poland did not beat Sweden. Even a scenario in which Slovakia loses by three goals against Spain and Poland and does not win against Sweden would be enough to leave the Finns third in Group E.

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