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BUDAPEST, HUNGARY – JUNE 23: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal battles for possession with Antoine Griezmann of France during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group F match between Portugal and France at Puskas Arena on June 23, 2021 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo : Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
The group stages are finally over and the cast for the round of 16 is now complete. Germany and Portugal recorded thrilling 2-2 draws against Hungary and France, respectively, to advance to the knockout stages of the Euro 2020 tournament.
In Group E, Spain and Sweden are going through with both teams notching impressive victories against Slovakia and Poland, respectively.
Germany, Portugal sneak through to last 16
The Germans looked to be on their way to an embarrassing exit in the tournament after twice falling behind to Hungary in their Group F match. Adam Szalai gave the Hungarians a shock lead in the 11th minute with an outstanding header from Roland Sallai’s superb cross from the right flank.
Germany responded immediately with Mats Hummels’ header finding the crossbar and Matthias Ginter firing straight at Péter Gulácsi from close range. They finally got the much-needed equalizer in the 66th minute when Kai Havertz scored from close range.
The euphoria of that German equalizer didn’t last long though as Hungary regained the lead just 16 seconds after the restart with Andras Schafer delivering a glancing header past German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Just minutes away from a shock elimination, Germany again found a leveler with substitute midfielder Leon Goretza firing a low finish from 16 yards out in the 84th minute to send Die Mannschaft through. The Germans will next face bitter rivals England in a mouth-watering clash in the round of 16 at Wembley Stadium.
Joining Germany in the round of 16 is Portugal. Fernando Santos’ men qualified as one of the best third-placed teams after securing a 2-2 draw with France in their final group match. Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice, both from the spot, to equal Ali Daei’s record of 109 goals set with Iran between 1993 and 2006.
Like Germany, Portugal also was in danger of getting the axe after Karim Benzema broke his six-year goal drought with France, scoring on either side of the half-time break. Ronaldo, however, saved Portugal’s blushes, drawing and converting a penalty in the 60th minute.
Ronaldo has been unstoppable for Portugal of late, scoring 48 goals in his last 45 international matches. He has stepped up his game in the Euro 2020 tournament as he leads the Golden Boot race with five goals scored in three matches played. With the draw result, Portugal forged a titanic clash with world No. 1 side Belgium in the round of 16 on Sunday in Seville.
Spaniards ensure passage with 5-0 demolition
The results in Group E were more straightforward with favorites Spain and Sweden recording convincing wins on Wednesday. The Spaniards finally earned their first win of the Euro 2020 tournament, destroying Slovakia in a five-goal rout.
Goals came in bunches after a disastrous error by Slovakia goalkeeper Martin Dubravka. The Newcastle keeper scored an own goal after punching the ball from Paolo Sarabia’s effort into the back of the net. Aymeric Laporte, Pablo Sarabia and Ferran Torres each scored goals for Spain before Juraj Kucka scored another own goal for Slovakia to make it 5-0.
They could have finished top of Group E but a late 94th-minute winner by Sweden in their match against Poland meant that Spain will face 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia in the round of 16.
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