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Hungary advance to Euro 2024 with late own goal


Hungary have qualified for their third-straight European Championship after an own-goal in stoppage time in a game marred by violent clashes outside an empty stadium in Bulgaria.

Bulgarian fans threw makeshift bombs, stones and plastic bottles at the police, who responded with a water cannon after trash cans were set on fire in the capital of Sofia on Thursday. Local media reported several protesters were injured.

Thousands of Bulgarian supporters were protesting against the management of the Bulgarian soccer federation, whom they blame for the national team's poor results. Fans were even more upset with the decision to play the match against Hungary in an empty stadium.

The Bulgarian national team hasn't qualified for a major tournament in nearly two decades. They were coming off humiliating losses to Albania in a friendly and to Lithuania in qualifying, prompting fans to call for a nationwide protest and demand for the resignation of officials.

Bulgaria looked set to earn their first qualifying victory until defender Alex Petkov put the ball in his own net seven minutes into added time in the 2-2 draw. The point was what Hungary required to secure a spot at Euro 2024 in Germany.

Martin Ádám put Hungary ahead in the 10th minute before the hosts rallied with goals by Spas Delev in the 24th and Kiril Despodov off a penalty kick in the 79th.

Both teams finished the match with 10 men after Bulgaria's Valentin Antov was sent off with a second yellow card in the 37th and Hungary's Milos Kerkez saw his second yellow in the 57th.

The result left Hungary two points ahead of Serbia after seven matches in Group G. Third-place Montenegro had 11 points after a 2-0 win over Lithuania.

At Rheinpark Stadium, Cristiano Ronaldo found the back of the net to help Portugal beat Liechtenstein 2-0 as the 38-year-old tied Belgium's Romelu Lukaku as the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign's top scorer.

With their spot for the finals already secured, Portugal are on top of Group J on 27 points, eight ahead of second-placed Slovakia who beat Iceland 4-2 to seal their spot.

Roberto Martinez's side were unable to break the deadlock in the first half but in the first minute of the second half, Diogo Jota's through ball found Ronaldo whose unstoppable left-footed shot skimmed the crossbar before going in.

Ronaldo extended his lead as the all-time top scorer in international soccer by moving up to 128 goals in 204 matches.

Joao Cancelo extended their lead in the 56th minute, taking advantage of a blunder by goalkeeper Benjamin Buechel, who was out of position, to strike into the empty net.

Already-qualified Spain defeated Cyprus 3-1 to remain top of Group A, thanks to goals from Lamine Yamal, Mikel Oyarzabal and Joselu. Spain enjoy a two-point lead over second-place Scotland, who drew 2-2 at Georgia.

Scotland, who have already qualified, picked up the draw with a goal from substitute Lawrence Shankland three minutes into second-half stoppage time.

Scott McTominay scored the other Scotland goal in the 49th. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia put the hosts on the board in the 15th and 57th minutes.

McTominay, however, branded Georgia's players "babies" following the feisty draw in Tbilisi.

"They should do something about people pretending they're injured when they're not," said the Manchester United midfielder.

"It's a difficult one to call, but rolling around crying like babies is not football."

Third-place Sweden lost 3-0 at fourth-place Azerbaijan, who played a man down from the 57th minute because of a straight red to Bahlul Mustafazade. Captain Emin Makhmudov scored a goal in each half for the hosts.