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Serbia salvages draw against Slovenia with stunning late equalizer


MUNICH (AP) — A late strike denied Slovenia a first ever win in a European Championship as Serbia snatched a 1-1 draw on Thursday.

Žan Karničnik’s 69th-minute goal put Slovenia on the brink of an historic win until substitute Luka Jović levelled deep in stoppage time.

The goal sent the Serbia fans into raucous joy but also saw them throw flares and other objects onto the field.

The equalizer was virtually the last action as the referee blew fulltime immediately after the players restarted. The Slovenia players collapsed to the ground in disappointment.

It also would have been their first win in a major tournament since victory over Algeria in the 2010 World Cup.

Slovenia plays England in its final group match on Tuesday, when Serbia faces Denmark. Serbia lost to England in their opener.

With both teams needing a win to boost their chances of progressing, the match started at a fast pace and Serbia goalkeeper Predrag Rajković had to make two early saves.

Those two shots on target in the first eight minutes were as many as Slovenia had in total in its drew with Denmark.

Serbia withstood the waves of Slovenia attacks and had its first chance in the 27th minute but Dušan Vlahović’s header was straight at goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

Serbia went even closer moments later when Dušan Tadić whipped in a fabulous corner to the far post but Aleksandar Mitrović — who scored in his previous two matches against Slovenia — couldn’t get a proper touch.

The best chance of the half fell to Slovenia in somewhat fortunate circumstances. Timi Elšnik tried to pass to a teammate but the ball came off a Serbia defender and fell kindly back to him for a thunderous effort which crashed off the right post. Benjamin Šeško fired the rebound woefully over.

Serbia started the second half with three great chances to break the deadlock inside the first five minutes, including Slovenia defender Jake Bijol almost scoring an own goal.

This tournament has seen plenty of stunning long-range goals and there was almost another in the 58th but Rajković did well to push Šeško’s strike over the bar.

Slovenia eventually broke the deadlock with a move started and finished by Žan Karničnik. The defender won the ball deep inside his own half and ran some 40 yards before picking out Elšnik on the left and racing into the box to collect the cross and tap home at the back post.

Serbia almost levelled immediately but Elšnik hit the crossbar.

Serbia threw everything at Slovenia in the final stages. Even Rajković came up for the final corner but it was Jović who leapt highest to head it past Oblak in the fifth minute of added time.