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Big hitters on way as Spain follow Germany into Euro KO round

The giants of European football are on the move. On Wednesday UEFA Euro hosts Germany secured their place in the knockout stage and 24 hours later they were followed into the last 16 by Spain. Both have won the European title three times and are ambitious to land a sole record fourth crown.

Coach Julian Nagelsmann’s Germany had progressed by defeating Hungary in Stuttgart and Luis de la Fuente’s Spain followed on with a defeat of reigning champions Italy more impressive than the 1-0 scoreline suggested.

La Roja, knocked out of Euro 2020 by the Azzurri, attacked from the kickoff through tormenting wingers Nico Williams and Lamine Yamal. Pedri, Williams and captain Alvaro Morata all went close in the half and midfielder Fabian Ruiz was foiled by the fingertips of keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Ironically, it was an own goal which broke the deadlock in the 55th minute. Williams stepped outside the Italian defence and delivered a low cross which skimmed off Alvaro Morata’s head and Donnarumma’s hand before being defected into goal by defender Riccardo Calafiori.

Teenager Lamine Yamal and Williams yet again went close before Italy staged a last-minutes assault on the Spanish goal in vain.

Spain will finish top of Group B whatever happens in their last group match against Albania on Monday while Italy can also progress by avoiding simultaneous defeat against Croatia

No such celebrations for England. Manager Gareth Southgate’s men could have booked their own place in the knockout stage by defeating Denmark in Frankfurt. Instead England, despite grabbing an early goal through captain Harry Kane, lost their grip. Cohesion vanished and passes continually went astray, most notably in the 34th minute when Morten Hjulmand thundered an equaliser from 25 metres.

England’s second-half performance was one of their poorest since the infamous Euro elimination by Iceland in 2016. Phil Foden did hit a post but, otherwise, Denmark were comfortably on terms and may regret not have played more bravely in attack.

Southgate said: “We understand people will be disappointed with the performances. We’re not using the ball well enough, we know there’s another level we have to find.”

The other match in Group C saw Serbia hold Slovenia 1-1 thanks to an equaliser in the fifth minute of stoppage time from Luka Jovic. Earlier defender Zan Karnicnik had scored 25 minutes to put Slovenia on the brink of a first Euro win.

Credit: AIPS Media 

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