Kazakh quarter nails Denmark in spectacular EC qualifier
For a long time, Denmark seemed to be whistling in Kazakhstan to take three points in EC qualification. Two goals from up-and-coming top striker Rasmus Höjlund seemed more than enough for that. But then followed fifteen minutes that will not soon be forgotten in football-loving Kazakhstan.
Höjlund, Atalanta’s Danish striker who also scored three goals against Finland on Thursday, was successful early in the match with a beautiful lob. Even before halftime he worked the 0-2 in and the game in pool H, which also includes Slovenia, Northern Ireland, Finland and San Marino, seemed to be decided.
But after halftime, Denmark let off the reins too much. The team got away with it for a long time, until the last quarter of an hour. Bakhtiyor Zaynutdinov scored the tying goal, then Askhat Tagybergen equalized with an unparalleled long-range shot.
Then Kazakhstan, encouraged by a stadium in complete euphoria, pressed on relentlessly. A minute before time, Abat Aymbetov completed the Kazakh comeback.
The Kazakhs are now in second place in the pool, behind leader Slovenia. Kazakhstan never qualified for a final tournament before, but will now dream of doing so more.
The country joined UEFA in 2002. Before that (in the years after the fall of the Soviet Union), Kazakhstan was part of the AFC, the Asian Football Federation.