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Slovenia 1-1 Serbia: Jovic salvages point at the death

Slovenia were within seconds of their first win at a European Championship

Luka Jovic

Substitute Luka Jovic came off the bench to nod home a last-gasp equaliser against Slovenia and haul Serbia back from the brink of near certain elimination at Euro 2024.

The Milan striker connected with a whipped-in right-wing corner in the fifth of five added minutes to deny Slovenia a deserved win that would have taken them to four points and almost certainly a place in the last 16.

It was an ending that was as cruel as it was unexpected with Serbia having seemingly run out of ideas in a game high on energy but low on quality, particularly in the final third.

Zan Karciknik had earlier put Slovenia ahead after 69 minutes, converting Timi Elsnik’s cross at the far post.

Aleksandar Mitrovic struck the woodwork in response but it seemed it was not going to be Serbia’s day until Jovic’s intervention.

Serbia now have a single point to show for their efforts and must beat Denmark in their final game to stand any chance of qualification. Slovenia have drawn their opening two matches and are also likely to need a win – against England – if they are to advance.

Slovenia bossed the early stages, Adam Cerin firing a drive straight at Predrag Rajkovic with the Serbia goalkeeper also called on to repel a Jan Mlakar effort.

It took Serbia 26 minutes to conjure up anything going forward and, even then, Jan Oblak made a routine save from a Dusan Vlahovic header.

Slovenia continued to look the more likely side to make the breakthrough and they were denied by the woodwork after 37 minutes. Elsnik capitalised on a one-two with a Serbia defender to weave his way through only to see his shot crash back off the right-hand post with Benjamin Sesko wastefully firing the rebound over the bar.

Knowing a win would give their qualification hopes a major shot in the arm, Dragan Stojkovic’s Serbia started the second period on the front foot with Mitrovic at the heart of the action.

The former Fulham striker saw a shot saved by Oblak before he headed over and then saw an another effort clear the bar.

In between, the hitherto quiet Sesko led a counter attack which culminated in the in-demand RB Leipzig striker curling in a shot that required an acrobatic save from Rajkovic.

It appeared the game was heading towards the first goalless stalemate at Euro 2024 when Slovenia took the lead with Karnicnik starting and finishing the move.

The right-back led the charge, picking out Elsnik on the left-flank before continuing his run into the box and then stealing in at the far post to convert the cross ahead of substitute Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

Karnicnik then showed his prowess at the other end with a crucial block that diverted Mitrovic’s shot onto the bar with Oblak beaten.

The Celje defender was enjoying his afternoon and he came close to adding another goal with a right-footed drive that flew past Rajkovic’s right-hand post.

Serbia poured forward in the latter stages but Oblak was not called into any meaningful action until he had two scoop the ball out of his net.

Picture of Jon Fisher

Jon Fisher

Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.