Euro 2020: Day 13
Spain were once again in action in Seville, needing to pick up their first victory of the tournament to progress from Group E as they hosted Slovakia, who already had 3 points courtesy of their opening matchday win against Poland. The Spanish were boosted by the return of captain Sergio Busquets, who had to miss the first two games following a positive Covid test, while Eric Garcia and Pablo Sarabia were among those also brought in. Spain had a great opportunity to take the lead when they were awarded a spot kick after 10 minutes, Koke fouled in the box by Hromada as he attempted to clear.
Alvaro Morata, who has enjoyed mixed success at the tournament, stepped up, but Newcastle United keeper Martin Dúbravka had the measure of the former Chelsea striker, pulling off a wonderful save to keep the scores level, Spain having now missed their last 5 penalties, including last time out when Moreno was denied before Morata fired wide. Sarabia then went close as Spain looked to make their dominance count, getting on the end of a ball from Pedri but not quite getting enough on it to beat Dubravka. Pedri himself then went close, as Spain continued to carve out chances without putting Dubravka under real threat.
Spain were gifted the lead after half an hour, and it was goalkeeper Martin Dúbravka who gifted the hosts the advantage. A shot from distance by Sarabia cannoned off the bar, and with the sun in his eyes as the Newcastle shot stopper looked to just help the ball over the bar, he could only claw into his own net, much to the delight of the home fans.
Spain doubled their lead moments before half time, and it was another defensive mix-up by Slovakia that allowed them to extend their lead. Failing to clear the ball, Moreno stole in front of Dúbravka to pick up a loose ball wide on the right, and with the keeper out of goal the ball was dinked into the middle, where Aymeric Laporte headed back across goal into the corner for his first international goal for his newly adopted country, having made the switch from France to Spain prior to the tournament.
Slovakia made two changes at the break, in part due to the extreme heat but also sending on a striker after offering little threat in the opening period. Spain made it 3-0 ten minutes into the second half, with a finely worked goal. The ball was worked to Jordi Alba on the left, and his pass into the middle was stroked home by Pablo Sarabia, the ball striking the inside of the post before nestling into the back of the net.
It got even worse for Slovakia as Ferran Torres scored with his first touch after coming off the bench, poor defending again from the visitors after a set piece move, the ball being rolled across the area by Sarabia, who turned provider again, for the Manchester City man to apply the finishing touch from close range with a neat flick, another well worked goal. Slovakia were on the verge of collapse, and it went from bad to worse when another substitute caused problems in the area, this time Pau Torres heading on goal from close range, but the ball being bundled over his own line by the unfortunate Juraj Kucka, with several Spanish players lurking, Spain hitting 5 for the first time ever in this competition. Spain still had chances to extend their lead further, notably another substitute Oyarzabal having several opportunities to humiliate Slovakia further, but to the relief of the visitors there was no further damage inflicted, despite an agonising additional 4 minutes of stoppage time to contend with, Spain finally beginning to show some of their form of old with this convincing performance.
Saint Petersburg hosted the action as group leaders Sweden hoped to secure top spot as they faced Poland, who came into the game with a solitary point, which was rescued thanks to a goal from experienced striker Robert Lewandowski in a 1-1 draw against Spain, who also missed a penalty. Poland welcomed back Grzegorz Krychowiak after suspension, while Sweden handed Robin Quaison a start, Marcus Berg the one making way. Sweden began brilliantly, taking the lead inside the opening 2 minutes as Emil Forsberg was once again on target, the scorer of the penalty in their draw against Slovakia this time scoring their first goal from open play, after the ball fell kindly for him on the edge of the area.
Lewandowski was then guilt of a massive miss as Poland looked to draw level, twice being denied by the woodwork from close range when he really should have scored, his initial header from a corner springing up and off the bar before his follow up met the same fate, meaning Sweden took a deserved lead into the break which also saw them sit at the top of Group E as things stood going into the second half. The advantage was doubled on 58 minutes as Emil Forsberg helped himself to his second of the game, Dejan Kulusevski breaking down the right wing with pace and skill before his assist allowed Forsberg an easy finish inside the area.
Poland hit back minutes later to reduce the deficit, Robert Lewandowski making some amends for his earlier miss as he cut inside from the left hand side before curling one into the far corner with the right, a fantastic finish more familiar of the FIFA player of the year than his earlier miss, although the goal itself did little to enhance the chances of qualification for Poland, who still sat bottom of the group. The Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski was then gifted space in the middle with 6 minutes remaining, bringing the ball down and finishing with ease to then pull his side level, an equaliser which meant Sweden slipped to second place in the group as the game drew to a close, the Scandinavians guilty of their own undoing with some lax marking in the middle.
The final minutes were end to end, neither side seeming willing to settle for the draw. It was the nominal home side, Sweden, who secured the win and rescued top spot at the death, substitute Viktor Claesson providing the finish from inside the area. Dejan Kulusevski was again the architect, creating space on the edge of the box before slipping Claesson through for the finish from close range.
The Puskás Aréna was once again rocking as France played Portugal in a repeat of the Euro 2016 final, Portugal victorious on that occasion thanks to a goal in extra-time. This time, France had the advantage of leading Group F and were already through, Portugal looking for either a win or a draw if Germany lost. The first chance of note fell after 16 minutes, Pogba picking up Kylian Mbappe with a great ball, the talented striker opening up his body and getting the shot away, but Rui Patricio equal to the effort. At the other end, Ronaldo looked hungry to add to his impressive international goal tally, creating problems for the French defence with his movement although he should have done better with a snap volley.
It was the Juventus front man who broke the deadlock, Portugal being awarded a penalty after half an hour when Hugo Lloris caught Danilo with a fist as he attempted to punch clear, and Ronaldo stepping up to send Lloris the wrong way to give Portugal the advantage, a goal which saw Portugal leapfrog France into the lead in Group F as well as leading on the night.
France were then awarded a penalty of their own minutes before the break, Kylian Mbappé being fouled by Semedo in the eyes of the referee. The recalled Karim Benzema was given the task of pulling France level, and he duly dispatched for his first ever European Championship goal to put France back in pole position in Budapest, the former team-mate of Ronaldo repeating the trick of his former colleague by sending the keeper the wrong way.
Karim Benzema added to his tally early in the second half, racing onto a Paul Pogba through ball to fire home, his goal initially being chalked off but then the intervention of VAR, the third time it had been called during the evening, allowing the goal to stand, Benzema racing through on the right hand side before finishing in the other corner beyond Rui Patricio. Not only did the goal send France back top, due to events elsewhere it saw Hungary move second, Germany back in contention to qualify and Portugal heading home, a complete shift of the standings.
Portugal were then handed another lifeline as they were gifted a second penalty, Kounde having his arms in the air when Ronaldo attempted to cross. The former Real Madrid man Ronaldo stepped up once more, once again holding his nerve to fire home in the same corner, and pull Portugal level. The goal, his 109th, also made him the joint record scorer in men’s international football. Aside from the record, it also pulled Portugal back into the qualification slots with Germany once again heading home.
Rui Patricio then produced a superb double save, first tipping an effort from Paul Pogba onto the post, before then denying Antoine Griezmann as France once again looked to regain the lead in Hungary.
Germany, impressive in their last game against Portugal, were looking for a repeat performance against Hungary in Munich knowing a win or draw would see them through, depending on France not losing to Portugal over in Hungary. The hosts were forced into one change from their impressive 4-2 win, Leroy Sané coming in for injured team-mate Thomas Müller in the forward role. Peter Gulácsi in the Hungary goal had to be alert early on, Kimmich showing superb control to bring the ball down in the area before firing across goal, the keeper doing well to get a strong hand on the effort as Germany began the better of the two sides.
Hungary, still on a high from their point last time out, were then sent into ecstasy again as they took the lead in the Allianz Arena with just 11 minutes on the clock. Roland Sallai broke down the right before producing a cross of the highest order, Ádám Szalai, who went of injured in the game against France, losing his markers in the middle to head home beyond Neuer, a goal sending Germany to the bottom of the group and heading out.
Germany looked to hit back almost immediately, Hungary having to be on the front foot defensively to sniff out the danger, Mats Hummels then rattling the crossbar with a header from a corner as the hosts looked to get back on level terms, Ginter then firing straight at the keeper. As the rain began to pour, Germany began to lose their footing in the game, looking nervy and yielding possession easily as Hungary were quite happy to defend, although they did still continue to look to hit the hosts on the counter.
Kai Havertz then wasted two good opportunities inside the area as the first half drew to a close, the Chelsea man with a tame first effort before then dragging wide, Germany really struggling to test Gulácsi much since falling behind.
Kai Havertz eventually did hit the target, just after the hour mark, the usually reliable Gulácsi making the wrong call to come for the ball, which he missed allowing Hummels to head back across the area for Havertz to head into the unguarded net, the goal once again leading to a swing in the group standings, with Germany moving up to second.The lead lasted less than a minute, however as Hungary regained the lead from kick off, a long ball over the top not cleared and when it was looped back into the area András Schäfer showed most desire and determination to get his head on the end of the ball to send it beyond Neuer, who was rushing out of his goal to close the chance down, Germany once again dropping to the bottom of the group.
Substitute Leon Goretzka then had a chance to restore parity, but failed to meet the cross, as Germany once again tried to rescue their qualification hopes in Munich, Hungary once again dropping deeper to protect their lead. Toni Kroos then had a fantastic chance, playing the one-two with Gosens, breaking into the area, but eventually firing just wide of the target with Gulácsi once again at full stretch as the game, and Germany’s hopes, entered the final 10 minutes.
Germany threw on youngster Jamal Musiala, and he had an immediate impact, causing trouble down the left before picking out Werner in the middle. The ball eventually broke to Leon Goretzka, who drilled in from range to once again see Germany move up to second in the table and line up a potential last 16 tie against England at Wembley, Hungary once again needing to find a goal to rescue their hopes as the pendulum continued to swing in Group F. Germany finally seemed content to keep the ball in the corner as the clock ran down, testament to just how hard Hungary had worked them during the game, and despite their campaign now being over they should take great pride and credit for their 2 draws against European giants France and Germany.
After the crazy events of the evening, it was almost hard to comprehend there was still more action, as attention turned back to events in Brazil in the Copa America. First up saw Ecuador and Peru play out a 2-2 draw, an own goal giving Ecuador the lead before they doubled the advantage in first half stoppage time through Ayrton Preciado. Peru rallied after the break, scoring twice unopposed themselves to earn the draw, André Carrillo with the equaliser after 54 minutes.
Then in the early hours Brazil continued their perfect start thanks to a late late comeback against Colombia, who had taken the lead just 10 minutes in. A late goal by Roberto Firmino, controversially allowed to stand after the ball had hit the referee, followed by a stoppage time header from Casemiro seeing Brazil coming back to ensure they now have the maximum 9 points from their opening 3 games. Colombia remain second in group B with 4 points.Share this: