Euro 2024, Football

Euro 2024 – Spain vs Germany: Merino’s dramatic 119th minute header in extra time sends hosts Germany packing

Mikel Merino’s header in the 119th minute of the match sealed an incredible 2-1 victory over Germany in Stuttgart, making Spain the first team to knock out the hosts in the quarterfinals of Euro 2024.

Merino, who played 25 games for Newcastle in the 2017–18 season, rose to meet Dani Olmo’s cross with 65 seconds left in extra time, sending Spain into Tuesday night’s Munich semi-final against France.

Olmo, a substitute who was named off the starting lineup, replaced the injured Pedri after just eight minutes, and his goal lighted the blue touch paper shortly into the second half.

Julian Nagelsmann turned to Niclas Fullkrug, who outmuscled Nacho to meet Florian Wirtz’s cross, causing an instant threat to the Spanish defenders and striking the near post.

There would be late drama when Wirtz converted Joshua Kimmich’s header back across goal from Maximilian Mittelstadt’s deep cross (89), demonstrating how Germany refused to let the chance to play in the European Championship pass them by.

Fearing they would lose to a country that hasn’t lost a shootout since 1976, Spain was relieved that Merino’s thrilling victory would mean no more misery from 12 yards, as they had lost the previous three major Championships in that same manner.

In the closing moments of the game, Dani Carvajal received a second yellow card, but La Roja prevailed. Merino said: “It was me who scored the goal but this was just proof of the family we are. It was the whole team which was responsible for it – the effort we put in on the training field, the gym. The moments nobody but us can see.”

Spain head coach Luis de la Fuente: “My players are insatiable. I’m proud to coach players like this. I’ve known many of them for many years.

“They’re used to competing at the highest level and they have an opportunity to win [the tournament]. This team are always going to compete. There’s always room for improvement, of course, but we can’t question their pride, quality and commitment.

“This is a historic night. I’m proud to be able to represent our country. How far we get, we will see, but we’re absolutely convinced that we can get very far with this team.”

“Our euphoria is totally under control. We’re so happy, but we know that tomorrow is already another day. We can’t control what happens on the outside, but we’re thrilled that the country is supporting us.”

On Germany’s aggressive approach, he added: “This is football. I come from the 1980s, and you want to see how they played then, this doesn’t shock me.

“I said to one, ‘what do you want, they blow kisses?’ These matches go to the limit. When you cross the white line, no compromise.”

Germany head coach Julian Nagelsmann: “The game was too open in the first half. We were better in the second half and from the 60th minute onwards, we were clearly the better team. Our late [equaliser] was well-deserved. We conceded the winner with the last chance. Unfortunately we weren’t able to apply enough pressure on the wing.

“I told [the players] that they don’t deserve [to exit the competition]. We’re all missing our families, but none of us wanted to leave. From the beginning of these last six weeks there’s been a very good atmosphere in the group. You could tell we gave everything to win this game.”

“Every player, whether they started or were on the bench, gave everything they had to win the game. It’s a painful one.”

On the retiring Toni Kroos, Nagelsmann added: “It’s impossible to over-appreciate Toni’s career. It’s probably unique for a German player. He’s certainly one of Germany’s biggest players. Everyone knows about his success but not everyone knows about his character. He spoke to the team in a very difficult moment for him personally. He always sees himself as part of this group.”


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