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Slovakia held 2-2 by 10-man Slovenia in FIFA World Cup European qualifier

BRATISLAVA, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) — Slovakia were held 2-2 at home by 10-man Slovenia on Thursday in Group H of the FIFA World Cup European qualifying tournament.

Both teams have amassed 11 points from nine games, but Slovakia stay third thanks to having conceded one goal less than fourth-ranked Slovenia.

The match in Trnava, Slovakia, was not going well for the home team as the Slovenians took the lead on 18 minutes when Andraz Sporar sent a precise center pass through the penalty area that landed on the head of Miha Zajc who nudged it into the goal of FC Fulham keeper Marek Rodak.

The Slovaks had two solid scoring chances late in the first half, but Marek Hamsik’s shot and Lukas Haraslin’s effort were saved by Atletico Madrid keeper Jan Oblak.

FC Cologne striker Ondrej Duda replaced Hamsik in the second half and he tied the game up in the 52nd minute, converting on a penalty kick awarded after a handball by Miha Blazic who was sent off on his second yellow.

“I am happy about the goal but I would be happier about a victory. It was hard for us to score despite the man advantage. We had some promising opportunities towards the end but the ball didn’t go in,” said Duda in a post-game interview.

Four minutes later, Slovenia managed to take the lead again with Miha Mevija’s header on a corner kick.

Slovakia increased the pressure and another substitute David Strelec tied the scores again with a bullet shot.

Before the final round, Russia lead Group H with 21 points after crushing last-ranked Cyprus 6-0 on Thursday. Croatia are second with two points adrift of Russia after outscoring penultimate Malta 7-1 and keep a chance of advancing to the playoffs.

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