Sabitzer’s penalty secures Austria’s spot in European Championship


Substitute Marcel Sabitzer scored from the penalty spot shortly after entering the game to secure a 1-0 win for Austria at Azerbaijan and send his country to next year’s European Championship in a day overshadowed by a deadly shooting in Brussels which saw Belgium’s game against Sweden halted at halftime.
“Due to the incidents in Brussels earlier tonight, play is suspended. Our thoughts are with all those affected,” a post from the Belgian national team read on X, formerly known as Twitter.
European soccer governing body UEFA confirmed the Group F match had been called off following consultation with both teams and local police. The score was 1-1 at the time. Viktor Gyokeres gave Sweden a 15th-minute lead, but Romelu Lukaku had Belgium level just after the half-hour. Belgium had already qualified for Euro 2024 while Sweden’s chances of a top-two place had been ended by Austria’s victory earlier.
After losing 3-2 to Belgium in Vienna last week in the fight for Group F supremacy Austria’s only defeat in seven qualifying games so far Sabitzer and his teammates knew a win in Baku would secure a spot at the tournament hosted by Germany. With several key players sidelined because of injuries, Austria struggled to create real chances in the first half. It was awarded a penalty just minutes into the second half after a hand ball. Sabitzer was clinical in converting with a strike into the corner in the 48th. Sabitzer, who plays for Borussia Dortmund, recently returned to competition after recovering from an adductor injury he picked up last month in a Champions League match against PSG.
Austria finished with 10 men after striker Guido Burgstaller was sent off in stoppage time for a second yellow card. Austria became the seventh team to qualify after Belgium, France, Portugal, Scotland, Spain and Turkey, along with host Germany.
Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal to a 5-0 victory over Bosnia, with goals also from Bruno Fernandes, Joao Cancelo, and Joao Felix, all in the first half. In the same group, Iceland beat Liechtenstein 4-0, and Slovakia won 1-0 against Luxembourg.