Finland celebrates historic football success with Euro 2020 spot
COPENHAGEN - Finland woke up with a hangover on Saturday as the country celebrated a historic first berth at a major football finals after qualifying for Euro 2020.
Hundreds of fans revelled long into the night at a square in central Helsinki after Friday's 3-0 home over Liechtenstein. Finnish flags waved proudly among tears of joy while some scaled the Havis Amanda statue, as they had six months ago to celebrate victory at the ice hockey world championships.
Finland are used to success on ice (and snow), the men's national football team have waited 80 long years for this triumph. They had previously attempted to qualify for a Euros or World Cup 32 times before finally achieving their goal.
At full-time on Friday fans surged onto the pitch to salute their heroes as fireworks were immediately set off in the background.
Centred around prolific Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki, the generation of 2019 has now upstaged former greats such as Jari Litmanen and Sami Hyypia who never managed to reach a big tournament.
Finland will play in a major tournament for the first time in their history as victory over Liechenstein secured their qualification for Euro 2020.— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) November 15, 2019
More here 👉 https://t.co/Wr3yujTANO pic.twitter.com/TgOEaX9cyS
"We have dreamt of THIS since we first attended the 1938 WC Qualifiers," the team's official Twitter account posted.
"THE DREAM OF GENERATIONS has come true and next summer the whole Finland will party like NEVER before."
Finland are certain to end as runners-up behind Group J winners Italy even with an outstanding fixture to conclude in Greece on Monday. Their campaign started with a loss to the Italians but a run of wins over rivals Greece, Armenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina put them on their way.
Another loss to Italy and a collapse in Bosnia sparked some nerves but a superb 3-0 win over Armenia in October set up Friday's night of glory.DPA