Pukki party continues in Finland as City striker’s penalty keeps Euro 2020 hopes on track
- Credit: AP
There’s just no stopping Norwich City star Teemu Pukki – who continued his superb goal-scoring form with a potentially vital goal for Finland in Euro 2020 qualifying tonight.
After a first half of few chances the prolific striker calmly rolled home a penalty in the 52nd minute to put the hosts ahead against Greece and take his tally for the season to six goals in five games for club and country.
Encouragingly, from a Canaries point of view, Pukki sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot for the game's only goal - having been one of the players who missed six of seven penalties for Norwich during last season.
The 29-year-old's hot streak now stretches to a phenomenal 42 goals in 61 games for club and country since he joined Norwich on a free transfer from Danish club Brondby in the summer of 2018.
The reigning Championship Player of the Season, who spearheaded City's title success, won his 74th cap and ensured his country remain in a fine position to qualify for their first ever European Championship - coming off with five minutes remaining and with no apparent injury concern.
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The Finns are second in Group J thanks to four successive victories, five points clear of third-placed Bosnia & Herzegovina, with the top two qualifying automatically. They also have the security of a play-off place, having won their Uefa Nations League group.
Qualifying continues with a difficult game against group leaders Italy on Sunday, in Tampere again (7.45pm), who won the reverse fixture 2-0 in Udine in March. The Italians won 3-1 in Armenia to remain in control of the group.
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Elsewhere, City left-back Jamal Lewis remained on the bench as Northern Ireland won a friendly against Luxembourg 1-0 in Belfast.
Back-up Canaries keeper Michael McGovern did feature as a substitute though, coming on in the 67th minute and winning his 29th cap, enjoying his first serious match action since the FA Cup loss to Portsmouth in January.
Lewis is likely to return to Michael O'Neill's starting XI on Monday, for a difficult home Euro qualifier against Germany (7.45pm), with the Irish going into the game having won all four of their qualifiers so far.
There could be more senior international action for one of City's players on Friday, with Kenny McLean in the Scotland squad, ahead of a home clash with Russia.
The Scots are fourth in Group I, three points behind the second-placed Russians but with a much worse goal-difference.
Canaries midfielder McLean is looking to win his ninth cap after starting his nation's last three matches, including Steve Clarke's first two games in charge, a 2-1 qualifying win in Cyprus and 3-0 away loss to group leaders Belgium.
Injured City defender Grant Hanley had earned a recall to the Scotland squad but the groin injury which saw him miss the 2-0 loss at West Ham on Saturday also forced him to pull out of international duty.