The Malta Independent 18 July 2024, Thursday
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Germany get late goal to draw 1-1 with Switzerland and finish top of Euro 2024 group

Associated Press Monday, 24 June 2024, 05:05 Last update: about 24 days ago

They all jumped for the ball in a frantic late push for the goal that would save Germany from its first loss at the European Championship, against an impressive Switzerland team.

Defender Nico Schlotterbeck leaped up, next to the even more imposing center-back Antonio Rüdiger, who reached highest of all. In front of them both was substitute Niclas Füllkrug.

The German trio was circled by three Swiss opponents trying to protect a 1-0 lead two minutes into stoppage time. Six pairs of feet off the ground in unison, straining to be the one to head the ball.

It was Füllkrug who won the contest, guiding the ball crossed from another substitute David Raum back across Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer into the top corner of the net. The match ended 1-1.

“We risked a lot in this phase because we could have conceded a second goal,” Germany coach Julian Nagelesmann said about throwing his defenders into attack. "Who doesn’t dare to risk, doesn’t get to draw.”

Germany had already advanced to the round of 16 before kickoff Sunday, but a draw felt like a win in the circumstances and kept the momentum of impressive wins against Scotland and Hungary.

“When you see how the Germans celebrated their goal that says everything," said Switzerland captain Granit Xhaka, named player of the match.

Switzerland impressed while protecting a 28th-minute goal from Dan Ndoye’s clever volleyed shot, and chasing a bigger lead. A second goal was denied by a marginal offside ruling against Ruben Vargas and a fine save by Manuel Neuer from Xhaka's shot.

The point for each team ensured Germany finished top and Switzerland second in Group A. Hungary took third place in the standings with an even later stoppage-time goal to beat Scotland 1-0 in Stuttgart.

Germany now goes to Dortmund for a round of 16 game Saturday against the runner-up in Group C. That opponent can be any of the four teams — England, Slovenia, Denmark or Serbia — playing their final round of Group C games on Tuesday.

Nagelsmann acknowledged Germany's opponent might not like having two fewer days of rest, though added: "We have to prepare for four teams, they only have to prepare for one team.”

Switzerland heads to the Olympic Stadium in Berlin to open the round of 16 on Saturday against the runner-up in Group B, likely Italy or Croatia. They meet Monday in their decisive group game.

Coach Murat Yakin suggested Switzerland had earned the right to make a higher-ranked opponent concerned about his unbeaten team.

“I think we have a certain standing which we worked hard for. We‘re on a good path,” Yakin said, “without a defeat, with a very good style of play. We like being the dark horse.”

Switzerland’s goal was made in Bologna, the upstart Italian club that has qualified for its first Champions League entry next season.

Ndoye timed his run to meet a floated pass across the goalmouth from his Bologna teammate Remo Freuler. The attack began when Fabian Rieder, making his first start since the 2022 World Cup, won the ball in the German half and then fed Freuler.

A video review had denied Germany taking the lead in the 17th. Robert Andrich’s long-range shot bounced up and over the dive of Sommer, but the VAR team alerted Italian referee Daniele Orsato to an earlier foul in the goalmouth by Jamal Musiala.

The much-criticized Waldstadion playing surface behaved better Sunday and the roof stayed closed to protect it though no more rain is forecast for at least five days.

The turf cut up during both previous Euro 2024 games in Frankfurt. It has seemed not to bed in properly since being laid in November after the stadium hosted two NFL games.

Frankfurt will host two more games, finishing with a round of 16 match that will include Group F winner Portugal perhaps facing Hungary, which faces a three-day wait to learn its fate.

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