The Finnish men’s national team made history on Friday night, beating Liechtenstein 3-0 to secure their place in next summer’s Euro2020 tournament – the first time Finland has made it to the finals of an international competition after decades of failed campaigns.
At Telia 5G-Areena in Helsinki the referee’s final whistle prompted a pitch invasion, as fans and players celebrated the victory, and fireworks exploded in the night sky.
Goals came from Jasse Tuominen in the first half, and then two goals from star striker Teemu Pukki in the second half – one of them a penalty.
The game was sold out with tickets reportedly changing hands for hundreds of euros, and in the audience President Sauli Niinistö sat with veteran Finnish player Jari Litmanen to cheer the Huuhkajat – Eagle Owls – to glory.
A big crowd came to Kansalaistori to watch the game on giant screens, while bars were packed in the capital and across the country as Finns – usually more into ice hockey than football – jumped on the bandwagon to support the national team.
Torille! Traditional Market Square Celebration
The Market Square in Helsinki is the traditional rallying point to celebrate sporting, or Eurovision, success and Friday night’s revelries didn’t disappoint.
Thousands of fans – mostly young men – came to celebrate the result, with passing cars blaring their horns and traffic eventually brought to a standstill when the numbers of arriving people spilled from the pavements and cobbles onto the roads as well.
Chanting “Oi Suomi on!”, waving flags and scarves, showering each other in beer in the Havis Amanda fountain – which has been drained of water – and letting off fireworks, the fans partied late into the night.
Congratulations came also from Prime Minister Antti Rinne (SDP) on social media.
“An incredible performance Huuhkajat! Congratulations and thank you” the PM wrote.
— Jaakko Sandqvist (@JaakkoSandqvist) November 15, 2019