Connect with us

Last-minute Spanish goal ousts host Germany in dramatic Euro 2024 finish


Last-minute Spanish goal ousts host Germany in dramatic Euro 2024 finish

Mikel Merino sent Spain into the Euro 2024 semifinals in dramatic fashion Friday, heading in the game-winning goal late in extra time to eliminate host Germany, 2-1, in Stuttgart.

Spain will face France on Tuesday in Munich after Les Bleus edged Portugal, 5-3 on penalties after a 0-0 draw, in Hamburg.

The Spain-Germany clash — a meeting between what had been the top teams at the European Championship — appeared set for penalty kicks.

A largely uneventful first half gave way to a more open, attacking second period that saw Spain take the lead on a 51st-minute strike from Dani Olmo. A last-gasp goal from Germany’s Florian Wirtz forced extra time, and after 28 minutes, it appeared the two sides would need penalty kicks to decide the winner.

Then Olmo sent a cross into the box, where Merino rose to head the ball into the corner of the net.

“This could have been a final, and it sure played out that way,” Merino told reporters. “This was a game between elite teams, a constant back and forth, and we showed that we have a great team.”

Germany had chances to again equalize in stoppage time. Two minutes in, Joshua Kimmich saw his shot from outside the box blocked. A minute later, Niclas Füllkrug steered a close-range header wide.

Spain returns to the European Championship semifinals after losing to Italy at that stage of the 2021 competition. The accomplishment represented a breakthrough for the Iberian nation as it returned to the final four of a major tournament for the first time since 2012, when it won the second of back-to-back European titles during a time when it dominated world soccer. The team’s approach helped inspire Germany’s current style of play.

Spain’s quality in this year’s tournament has inspired memories of its past and excitement for its future, spurred by dynamic young talents. Where its past play has been characterized by sharp passing and dominant ball possession, Spain has created a more expansive attacking threat through its speedy wingers.

Nico Williams, 21, has been one of the most dangerous players in the competition. On the other flank is 16-year-old Lamine Yamal, who became the youngest player to compete at the European Championship when he started against Croatia in Spain’s first match.

Yamal tallied two assists in the group stage, during which Spain was the only team to win all three of its games, sweeping Croatia, Italy and Albania without conceding a goal. Yamal added another assist Friday, when he whipped the ball into the area before Olmo angled it past German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Spain’s youth was a topic of discussion ahead of Friday’s game, perhaps partly because of comments former goalkeeper Jens Lehmann made to a German television station.

“In terms of technique, they might be better than us. But they’re small in terms of height, and they’re inexperienced,” Lehmann told the German television station Welt. “They’re a team of kids. They have very young players. They don’t have much international experience.”

Lehmann may have felt vindicated late in Friday’s game as Germany pushed for an equalizer and got one when Wirtz punctuated a Kimmich header, scoring from eight yards out in the 89th minute. But the Germans faltered in extra time.

Referee Anthony Taylor issued eight yellow cards to Spanish players, with seven coming in the second half or extra time. Spain defender Dani Carvajal was shown his second of the game and ejected for halting a threatening charge by Jamal Musiala late in stoppage time.

Spain will be without Carvajal and defender Robin Le Normand for Tuesday’s semifinal. Le Normand picked up his second yellow card of the tournament in the first half, triggering a suspension.

Germany’s quarterfinal exit extends its recent run of underachievement. Since they advanced to the Euro 2016 semifinals, the Germans have failed to reach the final four at every European Championship and World Cup.

“We were so close — that’s what makes it so bitter,” said Germany midfielder Toni Kroos, who in May announced his retirement at the end of his team’s tournament. “To be honest, right now the main feeling is that the tournament is over because we all had a big goal that we wanted to achieve together. And this dream we all had has been simply shattered now.”

Source link

More in Deporte



To Top