Now, it’s time to get down to serious business.
We’ve made it through 2/3 of the group stage at UEFA Euro 2020 and the final match-day of phase two didn’t disappoint. Having seen a total of three goals in three matches the previous day, we witnessed a total of 10 goals on this day.
There were plenty of twists and turns that have severe implications as to who will be advancing to the knockout round. On a day of full chaos, let me do my best to paint a clearer picture of what went down:
Spain 1, Poland 1
Both teams came out eager to pick up their first win of the tournament, but Poland almost struck first in the 6th minute when Mateusz Klich’s effort from long range scraped the top of the crossbar. However, Spain got on the board first in the 25th minute when Gerard Moreno’s scuffed shot attempt would find its way to a cutting Álvaro Morata in the box and the striker was able to slide it into the corner.
It was initially disallowed for offside, but VAR intervened and gave the goal. Poland almost equalized in the 35th minute when Robert Lewandowski clipped a ball towards the near post, but Karol Swiderski opted to use his foot instead of his head and sent his effort high. Poland came close again in the 43rd minute when Swiderski’s powerful shot would strike the left post and fall to Lewandowski, but goalkeeper Unai Simón made himself big to stop the follow-up attempt.
In the second half, things finally broke Poland’s way in front of net in the 54th minute when Lewandowski rose up at the back post to head Kamil Józwiak’s cross into the left corner of the net to get off the mark. A few minutes later, Spain received an opportunity to take the lead after VAR awarded them a penalty due to Gerard Moreno getting stepped on in the box.
Moreno would step up to take it, but his attempt hit the left post and Morata was unable to keep his follow-up attempt on goal. Spain would get one more opportunity at a winner in the 84th minute when a ball into the box fell between Morata and Ferran Torres, but goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny closed down the space quickly to get in front of Morata’s attempt.
All four teams in Group E remain in the hunt to qualify for the next round. Spain will face Slovakia in their next match while Poland will take on Sweden.
France 1, Hungary 1
Hungary were obviously up for this match playing against the reigning World Cup champions in their home stadium in Budapest. The first chance came in the 14th minute when French striker Karim Benzema hit a ball from outside the box that goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi had to get down to stop.
Benzema had another great opportunity in the 31st minute when he had space in the box to hit a flick pass from Kylian Mbappé, but he shanked his shot wide right. Those missed chances and others proved costly as Hungary opened the scoring against the run of play and just before halftime. Roland Sollai’s flick sprang Attila Fiola to run into the box on the left side and the wing-back was able to beat goalkeeper Hugo Lloris at his near post.
The match was bogged down at the start of the second half, but things picked up in the 59th minute when substitute Ousmane Dembélé’s effort from the right rattled the near post. France would come up with the equalizer a few minutes later when Mbappé collected a long kick from Lloris and broke into the box before crossing it towards the middle. The ball was loose for a moment before Antoine Griezmann showed up to knock it in.
Mbappé came close to scoring the winner in the 82nd minute, but Gulácsi was strong in making the stop. A last-ditch header by center-back Raphaël Varane deep into stoppage time would go wide and Hungary were able to hold on for a point many predicted they had no chance in getting.
France will now shift their focus to Portugal with qualification for the next round still not achieved while Hungary will look to at least repeat this performance in their next match vs. Germany.
Germany 4, Portugal 2
There were signs early on that this would be a high-scoring affair, beginning in the 5th minute when Germany’s Robin Gosens had the ball in the back of the net on a cross at the back post, but it was disallowed for offside on Serge Gnabry. Kai Havertz tested Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patrício in the 10th minute from distance, but he was able to get down to his left to make a save.
Having seen very little of the ball to start, Portugal were able to break off of a Germany corner and score against the run of play. Bernardo Silva found Diogo Jota streaking into the box on the left side with a cross and Jota was able to slide the ball towards Cristiano Ronaldo, who was able to tap in for his third goal at the Euros. It took Germany a little bit to answer, but they got some help in the 35th minute when Gosens volleyed a cross from Joshua Kimmich back towards the six-yard box. Havertz and Portugal center-back Rúben Dias both went for it, but Dias was the one to knock it into his own net.
Germany took the lead a few minutes later after Havertz mishit a ball to the back post that Kimmich returned to the middle. Portugal left-back Raphael Guerreiro was there to meet it first but wound up also striking the ball into his own net. Gosens and Gnabry each had opportunities breaking into the box to add to the lead before halftime, but Patrício was able to stop both attempts.
Germany extended their lead a few minutes into the second half when Gosens again got loose on the left side of the box. His cross to the six-yard box found Havertz who was able to redirect it into a wide-open net. After creating so many opportunities himself, Gosens finally got his goal in the 60th minute when met a cross from Kimmich at the back post and headed home from point-blank range.
Portugal wouldn’t go away, however, and they were able to get a goal back in the 67th minute when Ronaldo latched on to a free kick at the back post and was able to loop it back into the six-yard box to a waiting Jota who nudged it over the goal line. They almost closed the deficit to one in the 79th minute when substitute Renato Sanches let loose a thunderous effort from outside of the box, but Germany were thankful to see it careen off the left post and out.
Germany were able to see out the match for their first points of this tournament in what was the highest-scoring fixture so far.