Germany’s UEFA EURO 2020 qualification hung in the balance until six minutes from time, when Leon Goretzka’s goal preserved Joachim Löw’s team and halted Hungary’s daring bid to advance from Group F.
Hungary took a surprise lead in Munich thanks to a spectacular header by Adam Szalai, who plays for Mainz in Germany. Andras Schafer believed he had won it for Hungary with a header 90 seconds after Kai Havertz equalized, but replacement Leon Goretzka equalized six minutes later. Germany finished second in Group F and will now face Gareth Southgate’s England in a very anticipated last-16 encounter next Tuesday at Wembley Stadium.
Germany’s enthusiasm was muted by heavy weather in Munich, and they trailed after 11 minutes despite being dynamic and fluid in their 4-2 triumph over Portugal. Hungary was fast on the counter, and dám Szalai headed them in ahead after throwing himself at Roland Sallai’s excellent pass from the right.
Mats Hummels headed against the bar from a Joshua Kimmich corner before Matthias Ginter shot from close range at Pétre Gulácsi. On the other hand, Hungary appeared to have survived the storm, with Sallai smashing a free-kick against the outside of Manuel Neuer’s post shortly after the hour mark.
After Gulácsi failed to pick out a Kimmich free-kick, Hummels nodded the ball on Kai Havertz to head in from close range. Within 16 seconds of the restart, though, they were down again, with András Schäfer pursuing Szalai’s pass through to beat Neuer.
Things looked bleak for Germany until Jamal Musiala dragged the ball back for Goretzka to set up Timo Werner. His shot was blocked, but it dropped for Goretzka to beat Gulácsi.
The hosts were mainly labored in their play. Still, they were given a lifeline when Mats Hummels and Kai Havertz capitalized on a mistake by goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi, allowing the Chelsea forward to nod home from close range. More drama was to follow, though, as Goretzka scored in the 84th minute to put Germany in second place, setting up an exciting last-16 encounter with old adversaries England at Wembley on Tuesday.
Hungary was just minutes away from advancing to the knockout rounds of the European Championships for the second time. It was reminiscent of their 3-3 draw against Portugal in Euro 2016 when they were pegged back three times in a thrilling match. However, despite being in a difficult group, they can depart Euro 2020 with their heads held high.
In the first ten minutes, both teams had flashes of brilliance. Gulacsi came out to make a fantastic, reactive stop as Joshua Kimmich shot from a tight angle before Neuer rushed out to receive a beautiful ball from Attila Szalai.
However, Neuer was quickly defeated. The Hungarians launched a superb counter-attack, with Roland Sallai and Loic Nego combining well. Sallai sent a brilliant diagonal cross into the center, and Hungary captain Adam Szalai was on there to flick a header home, putting the ball beyond Neuer’s hands.
Man of the match performance:
Hungary captain Adam Szalai put up a strong performance. Hungary was under little duress, but his first goal was spectacular. As Hungary dared to dream of the knockout stage, he unselfishly brought up his teammate for the second goal.
While Hungary did not quite make it, Szalai was still making the necessary tackles and passed, even late in the day. A solid showing to round off Euro 2020.
Hungary Coach Marco Rossi stated:
“We were dangerously close to a qualifying that would not only have been unprecedented, but extraordinary and almost inconceivable.” Unfortunately, even in the best fairy tales, there may be some unhappy endings, which was the case tonight.
“Having said that, I am proud of my guys.” From a technical standpoint, I realize that we are not one of the finest teams in the world, but from every other one, we are. Tactical, how we assist each other out, how we dig in and sacrifice, I am incredibly pleased to coach this team. We are upset because we came so close, but I thanked everyone on the squad and encouraged them to keep their heads up since the World Cup qualification begins in two months.
“I would dare anyone to suggest that against these teams, we could earn any points at all.” But we received two points since we drew with France and lost to Germany. “I believe they will go down in Hungarian football history.”
Germany coach Joachim Low stated:
“We had a high morale, but we also committed blunders.” It was encouraging to see how hard we fought till we gained the equalizer. It was a tense game. We were confident that Hungary would give it its best. I’m simply glad we made it through this bunch.
“All of the small teams put in a lot of effort and defend effectively. Hungary had nothing to lose by playing with ten men in their half. It’s fantastic that we made it through this difficult group. Now we can look forward to playing England.”
What’s next for Germany?
Germany will now fly to London on Tuesday to face England in the last-16; kick-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. Hungary’s next match will be in the World Cup Qualifiers in September, when they face England on Thursday, September 2.
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