Friday, July 30, 2021

England reach Euro 2020 quarters to end Germany curse

Euro 2020 12
From left, England's Declan Rice, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish celebrate at the end of the Euro 2020 soccer championship round of 16 match between England and Germany, at Wembley stadium in London, Tuesday, June 29, 2021. England won 2-0. (Andy Rain, Pool via AP)

LONDON, June 30: Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane fired England into the Euro 2020 quarter-finals as they sealed a 2-0 win against Germany that ended decades of hurt at the hands of their bitter rivals on Tuesday.
Sterling struck with 15 minutes left in a tense last 16 tie at Wembley before Kane clinched England’s first knockout stage victory over Germany since 1966.

In the 55 years since England beat the Germans in the World Cup final, the Three Lions had endured a painful litany of defeats against Die Mannschaft when the stakes were highest.
England were eliminated from the 1970, 1990 and 2010 World Cups by Germany, who also beat them in the Euro 96 semi-finals at Wembley.
But Gareth Southgate’s side have finally exorcised the ghosts of Paul Gascoigne’s tears and their own manager’s penalty miss 25 years ago.
England produced a gritty display capped by clinical finishes from Sterling, who now has three goals in the tournament, and Kane — who finally bagged his first of the competition.
England, yet to concede a goal in the tournament, head to Rome on Saturday for a quarter-final against Ukraine.
Chasing a first major international trophy since 1966, England’s side of the draw looks wide open, with a potential semi-final against Denmark or the Czech Republic unlikely to strike fear into their hearts.
It was only England’s second knockout stage win in the history of the European Championship and their first victory over Germany at Wembley since 1975.
For Germany manager Joachim Loew, it was an agonising end to his reign as he prepares to step down after the tournament.
Always keen to deflect attention, Southgate will have relished his moment of redemption, especially since his decision to switch to a three-man defence to match up with the German formation paid off.
With the vast majority of the 40,000 crowd supporting England, the players walked out to a wall of sound that included a hostile reception for the German national anthem.
England needed a tone-setting moment to ease their visible anxiety early on and Sterling provided it as he drove forward for a 25-yard blast that forced a fine save from Manuel Neuer.
With Harry Maguire winning a series of thunderous headers and tackles and Bukayo Saka probing intelligently on the right flank, England gradually took control.
However, Germany almost snatched the lead as Kai Havertz played an inch-perfect pass to Timo Werner inside the England area.
But Werner endured a dismal first season in front of goal for Chelsea and once again he was unable to produce a precise finish as he shot straight at Jordan Pickford.
A misplaced pass from Thomas Mueller sent Sterling scampering through the Germany defence on the stroke of half-time.
Yet when the ball ran to Kane, he was too slow to apply the finishing touch as he rounded Neuer and Mats Hummels’ tackle snuffed out the danger.
Havertz’s blistering half-volley forced a superb tip over from Pickford soon after the interval.
It was Saka who made way when Southgate made his first change, sending on Jack Grealish in a game-defining moment.
Grealish’s presence immediately brought more energy to England and in the 75th minute they finally delivered the knockout blow.
Grealish worked the ball wide to Luke Shaw and his low cross reached Sterling, who pounced with a clinical close-range finish to send Wembley into ecstasy.
Mueller should have equalised when Havertz’s pass sent him clean through, but the Bayern Munich star rolled his shot wide and fell to the turf in dismay.
Kane made Mueller pay in the 86th minute as he finished off a lethal England counter-attack with a diving header past Neuer from Grealish’s cross.
During the first day of England’s Euro camp at St George’s Park, Southgate showed his squad a motivational video featuring some of the team’s greatest victories.
Now they have added their own chapter to the list of England’s finest moments.
Dovbyk heads Ukraine into Euro 2020 quarter-final clash with England
Artem Dovbyk’s header in the 121st minute sent Ukraine through to a Euro 2020 quarter-final clash with England on Saturday as they beat Sweden 2-1 after extra time in Glasgow.
Ukraine squeezed through to the last 16 despite taking just three points in the group stage, qualifying in part because Sweden beat Poland to top Group E ahead of Spain.
But Andriy Shevchenko’s side were determined to show they deserved their place in the knockout phase as Oleksandr Zinchenko fired them into an early lead.
Emil Forsberg’s deflected strike brought Sweden level before half-time and the RB Leipzig midfielder twice hit the woodwork in the second half.
However, a red card for Marcus Danielson nine minutes into extra time left Sweden hanging on for penalties until Dovbyk latched onto Zinchenko’s inviting cross to spark wild scenes of celebration among the small band of Ukrainian fans at Hampden Park.
Shevchenko said before the game his side had already achieved their objective by making it through the group.
But the former AC Milan striker got the reaction he desired after a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Austria in their final group game with a fast start.
Sweden’s Robin Olsen was forced into the first save to deny Roman Yaremchuk after he was teed up by the impressive Andriy Yarmolenko.
The West Ham United winger has been his country’s driving force all tournament, scoring or assisting in all but two of their six goals.
Yarmolenko’s teasing cross with the outside of his left foot fell kindly for Zinchenko on 27 minutes and the Manchester City man drilled in a low shot that had too much power for Olsen.
That was the first time Sweden had trailed all tournament, but Janne Andersson’s men responded well to the questions asked of whether they could chase a game after their defensive discipline shone through in the group stage.
Forsberg has been just as influential for Sweden as Yarmolenko for Ukraine and he equalised two minutes before the break with his fourth goal of the tournament.
Chances came and went for both sides as an entertaining second half raged from end to end.
Yarmolenko teed up Serhiy Sydorchuk to smash against the post, but Sweden posed the bigger threat.
Forsberg hit the woodwork twice, curling a shot onto the base of the post before a more powerful effort from the edge of the box cannoned back off the bar.
In between times, Georgiy Bushchan produced a stunning save to tip over Dejan Kulusevski’s dipping shot.
Ukraine survived to take the game into extra time and were gifted a golden chance to reach the last eight of a major tournament for just the second time as an independent nation when Sweden were reduced to 10 men.
Danielson won the ball but followed through with a dangerous challenge on Artem Besedin that forced the Dynamo Kiev striker to be come off injured.
Yarmolenko also had to be replaced midway through extra time in what will be a concern for Shevchenko if Ukraine are to have any chance of shocking England in Rome.

But his replacement Dovbyk was the hero as he chose the perfect time to score his first international goal. (AFP)