Iordanescu hails history-making Romania's march into Euros last 16

Romania celebrate qualifying for the Euro 2024 last 16 (JAVIER SORIANO)
Romania celebrate qualifying for the Euro 2024 last 16 (JAVIER SORIANO)

Romania boss Edward Iordanescu said his side had made "history" after a 1-1 draw against Slovakia ended their 24-year wait to reach the last 16 at the European Championship.

Iordanescu's team finished top of Group E as Razvan Marin's penalty equaliser cancelled out Ondrej Duda's opener in Frankfurt.

With all four teams in the group earning four points from their three games, Romania ended top having scored more goals than second-placed Belgium.

Slovakia went through in third place thanks to a superior goal difference to fourth-placed Ukraine.

It was a memorable moment for Romania, who are into the knockout stages of the Euros for the first time since 2000.

Romania had only qualified once for the last 16 in their five Euro appearances, but Iordanescu's tenacious side have ended that long drought.

"I believed in the players from the very beginning. We have potential and personality. We have found the spirit that we must never lose," he said.

"I don't know what we can do in the future but we are very pleased to have reached the next stage. We want to go as far as we can.

"We were losing again but we came back with intelligence, heart and balance. We have written history. This is the generation of soul. It is a fantastic generation."

The emotional Iordanescu hit back at the pundits who had claimed Romania and Slovakia would deliberately play out a mutually beneficial draw.

"Some people should apologise to us. Both teams gave everything. Before the game people were throwing mud at the players and our dignity," he said.

"It was shameful. It was not nice. We showed we have character. Romania always fights with character. If we were going to lose we were going to go home with our dignity intact."

Iordanescu also paid tribute to Romania's vociferous fans after they packed most of the stadium and turned it into a yellow cauldron.

"These are moments you only experience once in a lifetime. The Romania team has never had such support, not even our golden generation," he said.

"Virtually the whole stadium was yellow. Thank you to everyone here and everyone at home in Romania. I'm sure they are all celebrating and will be proud."