Germany and Portugal sneak into the next stage of the euro



Leon Goretzka’s late equalizer managed a 2-2 draw for Germany against Hungary, in a purple match that sends the Germans into the last 16 of the European Championship to face England at Wembley.

Hungary looked as if they were going to shock their hosts and knock them out of the tournament after Adam Szalay’s header in the 11th minute to open the scoring.

Ultimately, Kai Havertz equalized with Germany in the 66th minute, but Hungary regained the lead seconds after restarting as Andras Schaefer ran on a pass and headed home.

Goretzka scored the decisive equalizer in the 84th minute to send Germany to second place behind France in Group F with four points.

The lead-up to the match was overshadowed by UEFA’s refusal to allow the stadium to be lit in rainbow colors to oppose Hungarian anti-LGBT law, and a rainbow flag-waving protester invaded the stadium before kick-off.

It was all for the hosts as soon as the siren sounded, as they were desperate to avoid a repeat of their shock first-round exit at the 2018 World Cup, with Joshua Kimmich testing goalkeeper Peter Gulassi three minutes later.

But the Hungarians then stunned the crowd with Szalai’s header at the break.

The Germans captured nearly 70 per cent in the first half and Mats Hummels hit the crossbar with a powerful header, but other than that they showed little of the offensive spark they showed in their victory over Portugal, who advanced into the last 16. They tied 2-2 with France to finish third in the group.

Germany, who did not make it out of the group stage in successive major tournaments, showed their nerves as it gradually became more and more their game.

It was also a difficult goal that made them equal, as Gulacsi failed to connect with Kimmich with a free kick, Hummels headed the ball and Havertz nodded.

But while the German fans celebrated in the stands, Hungary scored a straight goal after the start of the second half, with Schalai hitting the ball in the German half and Schaefer lunging forward and heading past goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

With Hungary defending desperately to protect their place in the playoffs, Toni Kroos tried his luck from a narrow angle but his efforts went wide.

The German pressure finally came when substitute Jamal Musyala cut the ball in the penalty area and his fellow substitute Goretzka dug it into the net to avoid another failure in the championship for the Germans and set up a wonderful confrontation with the Three Lions team in London.

Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo kept defending champions Portugal alive in the European Championship with two penalties to disallow two goals from Frenchman Karim Benzema in a magical 2-2 draw that pushed the two teams into the last 16.

Benzema confirmed his return from international exile with his first goals with France more than five years ago, after being called up to the tournament.

But Ronaldo again grabbed the headlines as he equaled the world record 109 goals set by Iranian Ali Daei – ensuring Portugal reached the knockout stage.

Ronaldo missed the first three penalties of the match in the 31st minute to give his side a deserved lead, but Benzema equalized with a penalty in stoppage time in the first half.

Benzema scored again just after the break from Paul Pogba’s superb pass and at that point Portugal were heading out of the competition they had won by beating France in 2016.

Ronaldo beat Hugo Lloris from the penalty spot again in the hour, shortly before Pogba’s long-range shot against the crossbar in a match that sprouted life after a mediocre start.

Portugal held out for a thrilling Group F final on Wednesday which meant they finished third with four points behind Germany (four), who twice returned to draw 2-2 with Hungary.

Portugal will play Belgium, while France topped the group with five points to avoid Wembley facing England and will instead play with Switzerland in Bucharest.

Portugal dominated the first half and were awarded a penalty in the 27th minute after Lloris attempted a punch that eliminated Danilo.

Lloris received a yellow card before Ronaldo took the penalty kick into the corner.

France shook but entered the game when referee Antonio Mathieu Lahoz considered that Nelson Semedo had outplayed Kylian Mbappe at the end of the first half.

Benzema buried the penalty and two minutes into the first half, Pogba penetrated the ball and the striker, who appeared to be close to the VAR, hit Rui Patricio.

The third penalty kick in the match, a Euro record, was awarded by Jules Conde for a handball, and Ronaldo beat Lloris again with a penalty kick to score his fifth goal in the Goals Championship.

Round of 16 Euro 2020:

June 26: Wales vs Denmark in Amsterdam. Italy vs Austria in London

June 27: Netherlands – Czech Republic in Budapest. Belgium vs Portugal in Seville

June 28: Croatia vs Spain in Copenhagen. France vs Switzerland in Bucharest

June 29: England vs Germany in London. Sweden vs Ukraine in Glasgow

© AAP

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