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Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Portugal, Ireland, Croatia and the Czech Republic won playoffs to complete the field for the 2012 European soccer championship.
The four teams join 12 others in the tournament, which will be played in Poland and Ukraine from June 8 to July 1. European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, made Spain and the Netherlands the top seeds in the event. The Spanish defeated Holland 1-0 in last year’s World Cup final.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Helder Postiga scored twice each last night as Portugal routed Bosnia-Herzegovina 6-2 following a 0-0 draw to open the two-match playoff. Nani and Miguel Veloso also scored in the win in Lisbon.
Ireland tied 1-1 with Estonia in Dublin to complete a 5-1 series win. It’s the first time the Irish have qualified for the European Championship since 1988 and their only major tournament appearance since the 2002 World Cup.
“It’s a great night for everyone, it’s a night we’ll never forget,” Ireland striker Robbie Keane, who scored twice in the 4-0 opening win four days ago, told Sky Sports. “This is why we play football, for situations like this.”
Petr Jiracek scored in the 81st minute as the Czech Republic won 1-0 in Montenegro to complete a 3-0 series victory, while Croatia advanced by the same 3-0 aggregate score following a 0-0 home draw with Turkey.
For the draw, the hosts will be in Pot 1 with defending champion Spain and the Netherlands. Germany, Italy, England and Russia will be in Pot 2, with Croatia, Greece, Portugal and Sweden in Pot 3. The final pot will be Denmark, France, Czech Republic and Ireland.
One team from each pot will be selected during the Dec. 2 draw to form a group for the finals, UEFA said today.
--Editors: Dex McLuskey, James Cone.
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