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Pukki goals keep Finland's World Cup dreams alive

The Eagle Owls' remaining qualification games are against Bosnia and Herzegovina on 13 November and world champions France three days later.

Teemu Pukki.
Teemu Pukki of Norwich City scored both of Finland's goals in a 2-0 win over Kazakhstan on Tuesday evening. Image: AFP / Lehtikuva

Two goals from Teemu Pukki, scored either side of half time, have reignited the Finnish national football team's hopes of qualifying for next year's World Cup finals in Qatar.

The nation's chances of qualifying for the finals of the tournament for the first ever time suffered a significant setback on Saturday, when the Huuhkajat — or Eagle Owls — lost 2-1 at home to Ukraine and dropped from second place in qualifying Group D to fourth.

However, Tuesday evening's 2-0 win over Kazakhstan in the city of Astana has put Markku Kanerva's side back in the race with just two games left to play.

Pukki's first goal came just on the stroke of half time when he latched onto a ball over the top of the Kazakhstan defence from US-based midfielder Robin Lod, and slipped the ball past the advancing goalkeeper Igor Shatskiy.

His second, scored just three minutes into the second half, was an easy tap-in finish after Statskiy failed to hold a stinging 20-yard drive from the impressive Urho Nissila, who was making his first start for the national team.

The Norwich City striker's brace — his 32nd and 33rd for his country — means he has now surpassed former Liverpool and Ajax legend Jari Litmanen as Finland's all-time record goalscorer.

Finland's remaining games are against Bosnia and Herzegovina in the city of Zenica on 13 November followed by a home tie against world champions France in Helsinki three days later.

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