Pukki scores twice as Finland make history to book their place in first-ever major international tournament

Fri, Nov 15 2019

Finland fans in Dublin. Credit: Peter Fitzpatrick (ETPhotos)

Teemu Pukki’s second-half double helped Finland to make history and become the first side in the nation’s footballing history to qualify for a major international tournament.

A 3-0 victory over Liechtenstein in Helsinki was enough for the Finns to become the second automatic qualifier from Group J with a game to spare.

BATE Borisov striker Jasse Tuominen settled Finnish nerves with a 12th-minute opener but before Pukki added a brace, one from the spot, in 12 second-half minutes to seal the win.

Markku Kanerva’s side came into their penultimate fixture knowing a win would guarantee qualification following fine victories over 2004 winners Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

They had already sealed at least a play-off spot after topping their UEFA Nations League Division C group but strong performances in qualifying put them in line to go through automatically.

With Italy already guaranteed top spot, only Armenia and Bosnia could deny them a place with an unlikely sequence of results, and Armenia’s defeat to Greece ended their hopes.

And Finland wasted little time in getting on top against the group minnows, Pukki’s run into the box seeing the ball end at Tuominen’s feet, and he slotted coolly past Benjamin Buchel.

They had wait until past the hour mark to make certain, and it was Pukki who found the corner from the penalty spot after Livio Meier had upended Pyry Soiri in the box.

And Pukki added his ninth of the campaign 15 minutes from time when he finished at the second attempt after Andreas Malin had blocked his initial effort on the line.

Finland join Italy, Belgium, Spain, Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Turkey, France, England and the Czech Republic in the hat for the finals tournament.