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Relieved Germany raring for Wembley return

China Daily | Updated: 2021-06-25 09:42
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Kai Havertz heads home Germany's first equalizing goal in a 2-2 Euro 2020 draw with Hungary at Allianz Arena in Munich on Wednesday. The Group F result eliminated Hungary and saw Joachim Loew's men advance to a last-16 clash against England. [Photo/Agencies]

Loew's men 'full of confidence' for England showdown after surviving scare

MUNICH-The second-half subs saved Germany's day at the European Championship.

Leon Goretzka scored in the 84th minute after fellow sub Timo Werner's shot was blocked following a run through the defense from another bench player, 18-year-old Jamal Musiala.

That gave the Germans a 2-2 draw with Hungary on Wednesday, enough for it to finish second in Group F. A loss would have sent the Hungarians into the next round and sent Germany home early for the second straight major tournament.

"That was nothing for weak nerves," said Germany coach Joachim Loew, who is stepping down after Euro 2020 but certainly made the right moves on a rainy night in Munich.

Goretzka came off the bench in the 58th minute, Werner followed in the 67th and Musiala came on in the 82nd.

Three years after being eliminated from the group stage at the 2018 World Cup, Germany can now look forward to a trip to London to face England on Tuesday in the last 16 at Wembley Stadium.

"There is hardly a nicer match,"Germany midfielder Joshua Kimmich said. "No matter if it has to be in the last 16... we're definitely looking forward to it. I hope now we've finally arrived at the tournament."

It had looked like Adam Szalai was going to drag Hungary through to the knockout stage. The captain scored an early goal against the run of play and then set up Andras Schafer to make it 2-1 right after Kai Havertz had equalized for Germany.

"We made mistakes but we fought until the equalizer was there. The morale was sensationally good,"Loew said.

Germany made the better start but trailed early yet again when Szalai met Roland Sallai's cross with a flying header on a counterattack in the 11th.

On the other end, the home team struggled against Hungary's defensive 5-3-2 formation.

"You could see that they defended very well against Portugal and France for long stretches," Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said. "It was a defense of many legs."

The Germans also seemed to miss Thomas Mueller's guile up front. He was on the bench because of a knee injury sustained in the 4-2 win over Portugal. Leroy Sane started in his place, the only change Loew made from the teams that started both previous games.

Germany had to wait until the 66th when the normally excellent Peter Gulacsi failed to punch away a Toni Koos freekick. Mats Hummels headed the ball forward and Chelsea attacker Havertz made sure from close range.

Celebrations were cut short, however, as Hungary replied immediately when Szalai played in Schafer to head the ball past Neuer.

"That must never happen if you want to achieve something in a tournament like this," Goretzka said.

"I am absolutely delighted-we have no doubts now and are full of confidence," said Goretzka amid German celebrations at the final whistle.

Schafer's goal would have been enough to send Hungary through to the next round at Germany's expense, but Loew's substitutes rescued the game and kept him in his job for at least a few more days.

Portugal drew 2-2 with France in the other group game and both have progressed, while Hungary finished last with two points and has been eliminated.

"The group we got was probably the hardest you can get in Europe,"Gulacsi said. "Still, we were on course to progress until the 84th minute. Little things decided in the end. We didn't imagine before the tournament that we'd be so close. Now of course it's bitter."

Rivalry renewed

Neuer says Germany is relishing a return to Wembley to face England, 25 years after breaking English hearts at the tournament.

"It was a thriller, tough on the nerves," said relieved Germany goalkeeper Neuer.

"England will be a completely different game. We want to go further. And Wembley suits us," he added with a grin.

England will be looking to avenge its Euro 96 semifinal defeat to Germany at the old Wembley stadium when the host lost on penalties. Current England manager Gareth Southgate missed his spot-kick in that famous shootout before the Germans went on to beat the Czech Republic in the final.

Agencies Via Xinhua

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