The Netherlands‘ miserable European Championship qualifying campaign came to an end with a 3-2 defeat to the Czech Republic on Tuesday, meaning the nation who finished third at the 2014 World Cup will not take part in Euro 2016.
Pavel Kaderabek opened the scoring in the 24th minute after cutting down the right flank, and 11 minutes later Josef Sural made it 2-0 with a goal from close range.
There was hope for the Dutch as Marek Suchy was sent off for the Czechs shortly before half-time, but it was extinguished when Robin van Persie comically headed into his own net in the second half.
Consolation goals from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Van Persie were not enough as the defeat meant the Dutch finished fourth in Group A with four wins, a draw and five losses.
Netherlands’ loss was Turkey‘s gain as they qualified as the best third-place team after a 1-0 win over Iceland, who had already qualified alongside the group-winning Czechs.
Gokhan Tore was sent off for a bad foul in the 78th minute, but Selcuk Inan’s remarkable 89th-minute free kick clinched the victory for the Turks.
Turkey’s win meant Hungary barely missed out on qualifying for next summer’s tournament as the best third-placed team.
Turkey only overtook Hungary because Kazakhstan won 1-0 at Latvia, Islambek Kuat scoring the only goal by surging through the Latvian defence and slotting past goalkeeper Andris Vanins in the 65th minute.
The result meant Latvia finished bottom of the group instead of Kazakhstan, giving Turkey an additional four points in the race for top third-placed team because results against the sixth-placed side are discounted. Turkey only managed two draws against Latvia but beat Kazakhstan twice.
Hungary finished with 15 points against non-sixth-placed teams, one less than Turkey on 16.
Croatia also qualified for Euro 2016 by winning 1-0 at Malta in Group H.
Ivan Perisic’s 25th-minute goal was enough for Croatia to qualify as runners-up in Group H despite being deducted a point for a racist incident last year.
Perisic got behind a loose ball inside the Malta area and hit a powerful right-footed effort to beat goalkeeper Andrew Hogg.
Norway will settle for a playoff spot after seeing a second-half lead disappear in a 2-1 defeat to Italy, who won Group H.
A win would have seen Norway qualify instead of Croatia, and Alexander Tettey had given his side the lead in the 23rd minute with a 20-yard left-footed shot towards the right corner that beat Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
But Italy struck back through Alessandro Florenzi in the 73rd minute. Sebastian Giovinco’s cross from the left saw Haitam Aleesami chest the ball back to keeper Orjan Nyland, only for Florenzi to nip in and strike the ball into the back of the net.
Graziano Pelle scored the winner for the Azzurri eight minutes from time as he struck a left-footed volley past a helpless Nyland.
“They were much better than us in the 90 minutes and they of course deserved to win,” Norway coach Per-Mathias Hogmo said.
Bosnia-Herzegovina secured a playoff spot from Group B with a 3-2 win at Cyprus.
Bosnia took the lead after 12 minutes when midfielder Haris Medunjanin curled into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area.
Cyprus drew level in the 32nd minute when Constantinos Charalambidis tapped home after goalkeeper Asmir Begovic could only parry Georgios Efrem’s shot and went ahead nine minutes later when Nestoras Mitidis turned in Jason Demetriou’s low cross.
Medunjanin scored his second to draw Bosnia level shortly before half-time and Milan Djuric, seven minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute, earned all three points for the visitors when he headed home at the back post.
Dries Mertens, Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard scored as Belgium eliminated Israel‘s slim hopes with a 3-1 win.
Belgium went in front after the hour when De Bruyne set up Mertens in the box and his right-footed shot from 12 yards towards the far post beat Israel goalkeeper Ofir Marciano.
De Bruyne made it 2-0 with a powerful free kick which beat Marciano, who conceded again when Mertens set up Hazard in the box and the Chelsea star’s right-footed shot found the net.
Israel got their goal when Hemed headed Zahavi’s cross past Mignolet.
The win means Belgium will take over as the No. 1 nation in the FIFA World Ranking next month.
Wales, who qualified on Saturday, received goals from stars Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale to defeat Andorra 2-0.
Five minutes after half-time, Bale worked himself into space down the right to deliver a cross towards the unmarked Ashley Williams and, when goalkeeper Ferran Pol pushed his header out, the ball fell kindly to Ramsey, who finished from close range with his weaker left foot.
Bale’s seventh goal of this Euro 2016 campaign came four minutes from time when Ben Davies crossed and his shot had enough power to beat Pol.
Bulgaria defeated Azerbaijan 2-0, Mihail Aleksandrov and Dimitar Rangelov scoring in a meaningless game in Group H.
Aleksandrov opened the scoring in the 20th minute when he headed Ivelin Popov’s outswinging corner from the right low into the net.
And Rangelov sealed his side’s third win of the campaign with a 56th-minute header, meeting Zhivko Milanov’s right-wing cross.
The playoff draw will take place on Sunday, with games scheduled for Nov. 12-17.
Ukraine, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sweden and Hungary will be seeded for the two-legged playoffs and will be drawn against Denmark, Republic of Ireland, Slovenia and Norway.
The teams joining hosts France as qualifying directly from the group stage are: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, England, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Northern Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and Wales.
Albania, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia and Wales will make their debuts at the finals, while Austria qualified for the first time after participating as co-hosts in 2008.
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