Bednarek beats Brooks to EURO qualification


Jan Bednarek won the battle of the Saints as Poland overcame Wales in a nerve-shredding EURO 2024 play-off final, securing the Southampton defender’s place at this summer’s tournament in Germany.

Poland triumphed 5-4 on penalties in Cardiff following a 0-0 draw after extra time, as Bednarek was victorious against Saints teammate David Brooks to clinch qualification.

The centre-back played the first 79 minutes before he was substituted in a tactical switch, five minutes before Brooks entered the action from the bench for Wales.

The winger’s cameo would last only 18 minutes, as he was soon replaced by Ipswich’s Nathan Broadhead before the end of extra time. Wales boss Rob Page later revealed Brooks had been struggling with illness.

After both sides converted their first four spot-kicks, Krzysztof Piatek scored but Daniel James did not, thwarted by Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who would be Poland’s hero.

Elsewhere, it was a landmark night for Stuart Armstrong, who earned his 50th cap for Scotland as a late substitute against Northern Ireland in a friendly at Hampden Park.

Stuart Armstrong in action on his 50th cap for Scotland

Shea Charles played the full 90 minutes, just as he did against Romania on Friday night, as Northern Ireland ran out 1-0 winners thanks to a fine first-half strike from Liverpool youngster Conor Bradley.

Saints duo Ché Adams and Armstrong were introduced inside the final 20 minutes, but Scotland could not find an equaliser.

Gavin Bazunu was back in goal for Republic of Ireland, who fell to a 1-0 home defeat against Switzerland in another of tonight’s friendlies. Will Smallbone also featured as a second-half substitute in Dublin.

Meanwhile, Taylor Harwood-Bellis captained England Under-21s in a 7-0 hammering of Luxembourg in EURO qualifying. The defender was substituted on the hour mark with England already four up.