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Own goal keeps Slovenia's faint hopes alive

Own goal keeps Slovenia's faint hopes alive
Soccer Football - Euro 2020 Qualifier - Group G - Slovenia v Latvia - Stozice Stadium, Ljubljana, Slovenia - November 16, 2019 Latvia's Vladislavs Fjodorovs in action with Slovenia's Aljaz Struna REUTERS/Borut Zivulovic -
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BORUT ZIVULOVIC(Reuters)
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LJUBLJANA (Reuters) – Slovenia kept alive the faintest of hopes of qualifying for Euro 2020, at least for another couple of hours, when an own goal by Igors Tarasovs gave them a 1-0 win over bottom-of-the-table Latvia in Group G on Saturday.

The unfortunate Tarasovs turned the ball into the net at the far post in the 53rd minute after Josip Ilicic beat his marker and fired in a low cross from the right.

Third-placed Slovenia moved on to 14 points from nine games, two behind Austria who were at home to North Macedonia later on Saturday needing a point to join Poland as the group’s two qualifiers.

Even if Austria lose, they would still need another defeat in Latvia on Tuesday to miss out on qualification — unlikely as Latvia have lost all nine games so far — while Slovenia themselves would also have to beat leaders Poland away.

Slovenia, whose only appearance at the finals was in 2000, created enough chances to have won more comfortably with Jasmin Kurtic curling a dipping shot onto the crossbar in the first half.

They nearly paid late in the game when their goalkeeper Jan Oblak was forced to make a difficult one-handed save from Vladislavs Fjodorovs and deny Latvia their first point in the group.

(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Toby Davis)

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