Football Germany survives Hungary scare to set up England Euro clash
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Germany survives Hungary scare to set up England Euro clash

Germany's Leon Goretzka scores his side's second goal during the Euro 2020 match against Hungary. Photo: AP
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Never write off the Germans.

Germany has survived an almighty scare against Hungary, coming from behind twice to secure a 2-2 draw against a spirited Hungary,

A late Leon Goretzka equaliser salvaged a point for Germany, in a see-saw contest that sets the Germans up for a round of 16 European Championship clash with England at Wembley.

Hungary looked like they would shock their hosts and send them out of the tournament after Adam Szalai’s diving header in the 11th minute to open the scoring.

Kai Havertz eventually drew Germany level in the 66th minute, only for Hungary to retake the lead seconds after the re-start as Andras Schaefer ran onto a pass and headed in.

Goretzka bagged the crucial equaliser in the 84th minute to send Germany through in second place behind France in Group F on four points.

The run-up to the game had been overshadowed by UEFA’s refusal to allow the stadium to be lit in rainbow colours to oppose a Hungarian anti-LGBTQ law, and a protester waving a rainbow flag invaded the pitch ahead of kick-off.

It was all business for the hosts once the whistle was blown, however, as they were desperate to avoid a repeat of their shock 2018 first round World Cup exit, with Joshua Kimmich testing keeper Peter Gulacsi after three minutes.

But it was the Hungarians who then stunned the home crowd with Szalai’s diving header on the break.

The Germans had close to 70 per cent possession in the first half and Mats Hummels hit the crossbar with a powerful header, but other than that they showed little of the attacking spark they demonstrated in their win over Portugal, who advanced to the last 16 with a 2-2 draw against France to finish third in the group.

Germany, who had never gone out at the group stage of consecutive major tournaments, showed nerves as their game gradually became more and more scrappy.

It was also a scrappy goal that brought them level, with Gulacsi failing to connect with a Kimmich free-kick, Hummels heading the ball on and Havertz nodding in.

But as the German fans celebrated in the stands, Hungary scored straight after the restart, with Szalai lofting the ball into the German half and Schaefer lunging forward and heading it past keeper Manuel Neuer.

With Hungary defending desperately to protect their spot in the knockout stages, Toni Kroos tried his luck from a tight angle but his effort flashed wide.

The German pressure finally paid off when substitute Jamal Musiala cut the ball in the box and fellow substitute Goretzka drilled it home to avoid another tournament fiasco for the Germans and set up a mouth-watering encounter with The Three Lions in London.

In the group’s other match, Cristiano Ronaldo has kept defending champions Portugal alive at the European Championship with two penalties to cancel out a brace from France’s Karim Benzema in an enthralling 2-2 draw that sent both sides into the last 16.

Benzema confirmed his return from international exile with his first goals for France for more than five years after being recalled for the tournament.

But it was Ronaldo who again grabbed the headlines as he equalled the world record 109 international goals scored by Iran’s Ali Daei – ensuring Portugal scrambled into the knockout phase.

Ronaldo tucked away the first of three penalties in the match in the 31st minute to give his side a deserved lead but Benzema equalised from the spot in first-half stoppage time.

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

Ronaldo beat Hugo Lloris from the spot again on the hour, however, shortly before Pogba thumped a long-range effort against the crossbar in a match that sprung to life after a cagey start.

Portugal hung on in a breathless conclusion to Group F on Wednesday which meant they finished third on four points, behind Germany (four points) who twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with Hungary.

Portugal will play Belgium while France topped the group with five points to avoid a Wembley clash with England and instead will take on Switzerland in Bucharest.

Portugal bossed the first half and were awarded a penalty in the 27th minute after Lloris’s attempted punch wiped out Danilo.

Lloris was shown a yellow card before Ronaldo smashed the penalty into the corner.

France were rattled but went in on level terms when referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz deemed that Nelson Semedo had bundled over Kylian Mbappe on the stroke of halftime.

Benzema buried the penalty and two minutes after the break was picked out by Pogba and the striker, shown to be just onside by a VAR check, slotted the ball past Rui Patricio.

The game’s third penalty, a Euros record, was awarded for a handball by Jules Kounde and Ronaldo beat Lloris again from the spot to register his fifth goal of the goal tournament.

Sweden send Lewandowski’s Poland home

Sweden winger Emil Forsberg has scored twice, including the second fastest strike in European Championship history, before Viktor Claesson’s stoppage-time goal helped them seal a 3-2 win over Poland on Wednesday and top Group E heading into the last-16.

Sweden will next face one of the third-placed sides from Groups B, C or D – Finland, Ukraine or the Czech Republic – in Glasgow on June 29.

Spain, who finished second following their 5-0 win over Slovakia in the other Group E match, face Croatia in Copenhagen a day earlier.

It was a heartbreaking end to Poland’s campaign on Wednesday after they twice drew level through a double from talismanic skipper Robert Lewandowski, whose 84th minute equaliser for 2-2 gave them a glimmer of hope.

Sweden’s previous two matches were built on robust defensive displays that had cast doubts on whether Janne Andersson’s side could get their attack firing, but they made a blistering start through the lively Forsberg.

After Robin Quaison controlled the ball on the edge of the penalty area, Forsberg collected a pass and took advantage of some poor defending to fire past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny with 82 seconds on the clock.

He doubled their lead with a powerful drive for his third goal of the tournament after substitute Dejan Kulusevski weaved his way into the box to lay it on a platter in the 59th minute.

Lewandowski pulled a goal back two minutes later with a curling shot before Jakub Swierczok’s tap-in from substitute Przemyslaw Frankowski’s pass was ruled out for offside after the Video Assiatant Referee’s intervention.

Lewandowski, who missed chances to make it 1-1 in the first half after rising above Sweden’s defence only to thunder two headers onto the crossbar, fired in the equaliser from close range after a pass from Frankowski.

But Sweden were not done yet, as Kulusevski slipped the ball to Claesson who slotted past Szczesny to secure the win.

“It was a rollercoaster, emotionally. It was 2-0 and as calm as it could be, then they got back into the game and got two goals,” Claesson told Sweden’s TV4.

“From 2-1, there’s always pressure there. It’s hard to do anything but defend in those situations when they have that kind of momentum. We’ll hopefully get a slightly easier opponent in the last 16.”

Spain have crushed a hapless Slovakia 5-0 for their first European Championship win, setting up a last-16 clash against Croatia after being set on their way by a calamitous own-goal from keeper Martin Dubravka.

Aymeric Laporte headed in a second goal on the stroke of halftime before second-half goals from Sarabia, Ferran Torres and a Juraj Kucka own goal rounded off an emphatic win on Wednesday that saw them finish second in Group E on five points behind Sweden.

Luis Enrique’s side will next meet the World Cup finalists Croatia in Copenhagen on Monday while Slovakia, who came third with three points and a goal difference of minus five, are heading home.

Dubravka had made a stunning save to keep out an Alvaro Morata penalty but then gave Spain the lead on the half-hour mark when he palmed the ball into his own net after a Sarabia shot had cannoned off the crossbar and looped back towards goal.

The goal, which came about after a misplaced pass from Slovakia’s shaky defence, eased any nerves Spain had of a shock exit after disappointing draws with Sweden and Poland, and they went on to record the biggest win of the tournament.

Cesar Azpilicueta had said ahead of the crunch game that it was “do or die” for Spain but coach Luis Enrique was more optimistic, likening his side to a bottle of champagne that was about to be uncorked.

He was right.

Influential captain Sergio Busquets returned as one of four changes, but initially Spain squandered several early chances including the penalty – the fifth consecutive spot-kick they have failed to convert, which also followed Gerard Moreno’s miss against Poland.

It took Dubravka’s moment of madness for the Spaniards to take the lead, but there was no letting up after that and after missing so many clear chances in all three games, practically every effort they had seemed to go in.

Laporte nodded home a Gerard Moreno cross following a corner right before halftime and the party continued after the interval when Sarabia calmly tucked in a Jordi Alba cross in the 56th minute

Ferran added to the festive mood by scoring with a classy backheel immediately after coming off the bench, converting a cross from the electric Sarabia, while fellow substitute Pau Torres played a big part in the scrappy fifth goal, which went in off Slovakia midfielder Kucka.

It sealed a miserable afternoon for Slovakia, who had hopes of getting into the knockout stages for the second time in their second appearance in a Euros.

Euro 2020 Round of 16:
June 26: Wales v Denmark in Amsterdam; Italy v Austria in London
June 27: Netherlands v Czech Republic in Budapest; Belgium v Portugal in Seville
June 28: Croatia v Spain in Copenhagen; France v Switzerland in Bucharest
June 29: England v Germany in London; Sweden v Ukraine in Glasgow

-with AAP