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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
How they qualified: Latvia
Outsiders Latvia were unfancied to qualify but caused a major surprise by beating World Cup semi-finalists Turkey in the play-offs to reach the Euro 2004 finals.

LATVIA'S ROUTE TO EURO 2004
Latvia celebrate victory over Turkey
Results
07.09.02: Sweden (a) 0-0
12.10.02: Poland (a) 1-0
20.11.02: San Marino (a) 1-0
30.04.03: San Marino (h) 3-0
07.06.03: Hungary (a) 1-3
06.09.03: Poland (h) 0-2
10.09.03: Hungary (h) 3-1
11.10.03: Sweden (a) 1-0
Play-offs
15.11.03: Turkey (h) 1-0
19.11.03: Turkey (a) 2-2

Sweden and Poland were tipped as Group Four favourites, but Latvia showed their pedigree in their first match when they held visitors Sweden to a 0-0 draw in the opening match.

In their next game they went one better by recording a 1-0 win over Poland. A Juris Laizans goal in the 30th minute proved enough for all three points.

Coach Aleksandrs Starkovs led his men to two hard-fought and unremarkable wins over San Marino.

Successive defeats against Hungary and, most importantly, Poland followed.

With two fixtures remaining, Latvia needed to record two wins to ensure that they finished in the top two.

Two goals from Maris Verpakovskis helped Starkovs' men to a 3-1 victory and was followed up a few days later by 1-0 success over a Swedish side that had already secured automatic qualification.

Latvia now faced World Cup semi-finalists Turkey in the play-offs.

The odds were hugely stacked against them. Verpakovskis's goal game them a crucial 1-0 advantage going into the away leg.

That effort appeared to be all in vain as Latvia fell 2-0 behind in the return fixture.

They bounced back thanks to a vital away goal from Jurijs Laizans, before Verpakovskis put the icing on the cake.

GROUP FOUR TABLE
Team P W D L GF GAPts
Sweden 8 5 2 1 19 3 17
Latvia 8 5 1 2 10 6 16
Poland 8 4 1 3 11 7 13
Hungary 8 3 2 3 15 9 11
San Marino 8 0 0 8 0 30 0





Links to more Latvia stories


 

LATVIA PLAYERS TO WATCH
 


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