Bratislava : , Nov 20 (IANS) Slovakia missed out on automatic qualification for Euro 2020, ending up third in Group E despite a 2-0 win against bottom side Azerbaijan in their final qualifying match.
The crowd at the Anton Malatinsky Arena witnessed the home side dominate from the start, keeping Azerbaijan's goalkeeper Emil Balayev busy. Their efforts were rewarded in the 19th minute when striker Robert Bozenik slotted home, putting Slovakia 1-0 ahead, reports Xinhua news agency.
The second half saw the Slovaks ease off, and they were almost punished for their slackness when substitute Renat Dadashov's individual effort came close to finding the net.
Undaunted, Dalian Yifang's star player Marek Hamsik made the home fans happy late in the game, after his long-range effort ricocheted off a defender and into Azerbaijan's goal to make the final score 2-0.
The Slovakians were hoping for a draw in the other Group E match on Tuesday between Wales and Hungary, which would have seen Slovakia finish second in the group to earn them a spot at Euro 2020. However, Wales triumphed 2-0 and now advance directly to the tournament along with group winners Croatia.
Slovakia still have one final chance to secure a spot at next year's tournament, as they will play Ireland in a two-legged playoff in March, with the winning side qualifying for Euro 2020.