The Euro 2020 has been a cracking tournament so far, with the round of 16 especially producing thrilling matches. Knockout games at major football tournaments can often be dull, cagey and/or tactical battles but there has been a wide variety of ties that have been served up to fans. There were upsets, some cracking goals, and no shortage of dramatic matches.
The round of 16 matches saw the defending champions Portugal and world champions France crash out. Indeed, the survivors of the so called group of death witnessed the end of their campaigns.
The biggest upset was the Czech Republic’s win over fancied Netherlands while Denmark bounced back from defeats in the first two matches of the tournament to now remarkably stand one win away from the semi-finals.
Italy were pushed all the way by Austria but now arguably are the favourites to go all the way with Roberto Mancini overseeing a run of 12 consecutive wins. England, too, have been impressive as they finally ended the German jinx to bring an end to Joachim Loew’s era.
Here’s a recap of the round of 16 matches:
Amsterdam: Wales 0 Denmark 4 (Dolberg 27, 48, Maehle 88, Braithwaite 90+4)
Denmark marked the 29th anniversary of their greatest triumph by marching on to the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 on Saturday as Kasper Dolberg scored twice in an emphatic 4-0 win over Wales before an exultant travelling support in Amsterdam.
In the city where Christian Eriksen made his name, it was Dolberg –- another former Ajax player –- who opened the scoring with a fizzing strike in the 27th minute.
That came after Wales had started so well but Denmark never looked back and Dolberg struck again just after the restart before Joakim Maehle and Martin Braithwaite added more goals late on.
Carried by a wave of emotion, Danish dreams are still intact in a tournament that began in such traumatic circumstances for them with Eriksen’s collapse in their opening match against Finland in Copenhagen.
They now go on to a last-eight tie in Baku against the Czech Republic.
London: Italy 2 (Chiesa 95, Pessina 105) Austria 1 (Kalajdzic 114)
Substitutes Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina struck in extra-time as Italy beat battling Austria 2-1 to reach the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 at Wembley on Saturday.
The two teams were locked at 0-0 after 90 minutes in London, with Italy enjoying the better of the first half and Austria coming back strongly in the second period.
But Chiesa made the crucial breakthrough early in extra-time and another goal from Pessina set up a quarter-final against the winners of Sunday’s tie between Belgium and holders Portugal, despite late drama.
The victory means Italy have now set a new record of 31 matches unbeaten, surpassing the mark set under two-time World Cup-winning coach Vittorio Pozzo in the 1930s.
Budapest: Netherlands 0 Czech Republic 2 (Holes 68, Schick 80)
The Czech Republic reached the Euro 2020 quarter-finals Sunday after stunning the 10-man Netherlands 2-0 in Budapest thanks to second-half strikes by Tomas Holes and Patrik Schick.
The goals, a header by Holes and a clinical finish by Schick, arrived after Matthijs de Ligt was sent off in the 55th minute, and secured the efficient Czechs a deserved berth in the last eight against Denmark in Baku on July 3.
Netherlands coach Frank de Boer, who said winning the tournament was his objective, was left to rue his misfiring side’s failure to land a shot on target in a tense and often niggly encounter.
Boer then stepped down on Tuesday after the Netherlands’ dismal Euro 2020 last-16 elimination by the Czech Republic.
Seville: Belgium 1 (Thorgan Hazard 42) Portugal 0
Thorgan Hazard scored the only goal of the game as Belgium knocked the holders Portugal out of Euro 2020 on Sunday.
Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portugal teammates were hoping to defend the trophy they won in Paris five years ago but they could not recover after the lesser heralded of the Hazard brothers smashed home just before half-time in Seville and Belgium held out for a 1-0 victory.
The meeting between the reigning champions and the world’s top-ranked team was hotly anticipated but it never lived up to expectations.
Belgium will not care as they advance to another exciting tie, a mouth-watering quarter-final against Italy in Munich on Friday.
Copenhagen: Croatia 3 (Pedri 20-og, Orsic 85, Pasalic 90+2) Spain 5 (Sarabia 38, Azpilicueta 57, Ferran Torres 77, Morata 100, Oyarzabal 103)
Alvaro Morata and Mikel Oyarzabal scored extra-time goals as Spain beat Croatia 5-3 in an epic tie in Copenhagen on Monday to secure a place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020.
Spain had looked to be cruising into the last eight at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen thanks to goals from Pablo Sarabia, Cesar Azpilicueta and Ferran Torres which had put Luis Enrique’s side 3-1 ahead with 13 minutes remaining in normal time.
However, substitute Mislav Orsic pulled one back following a chaotic goalmouth scramble in the 85th minute and then supplied the cross from which Mario Pasalic headed Croatia level in the second minute of stoppage time to take the match to the additional half-hour.
Spain eventually prevailed – after some scares – in a thrilling contest with a fine finish from under-fire forward Morata and Oyarzabal’s breakaway strike giving Luis Enrique’s side the win their overall play deserved.
Spain had not won a major tournament knockout match since thrashing Italy in the Euro 2012 final but now progress to a quarter-final in Saint Petersburg on Friday.
Bucharest: France 3 (Benzema 57, 59, Pogba 75) Switzerland 3 (Seferovic 15, 81, Gavranovic 90); Switzerland won 5-4 on penalties
Kylian Mbappe had the decisive penalty saved on Monday as world champions France were sent packing from Euro 2020 in a shoot-out against Switzerland, who go through to a quarter-final tie against Spain after an unforgettable day of drama which featured a total of 14 goals in two games.
Switzerland had never won a knockout tie at the European Championship and had never won a shoot-out, but they triumphed 5-4 on penalties against the World Cup holders after a remarkable 3-3 draw in Bucharest.
France, who came into the tournament as favourites to add the continental crown to the World Cup they won in Russia three years ago, had earlier come from 1-0 down to lead 3-1 and looked to be cruising through, only to concede two late goals.
The game in the Romanian capital followed a 5-3 extra-time win for Spain over Croatia in Copenhagen, and the 2008 and 2012 European champions will face the Swiss in the last eight in Saint Petersburg on Friday. It was one of the most incredible nights in recent tournament football history.
London: England 2 (Sterling 75, Kane 86) Germany 0
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, they 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 at last 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.
Glasgow: Sweden 1 (Forsberg 43) Ukraine 2 (Zinchenko 27, Dovbyk 120+1)
Artem Dovbyk’s header in the 121st minute sent Ukraine through to a Euro 2020 quarter-final clash with England as they beat Sweden 2-1 after extra time in Glasgow on Tuesday.
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.
Winner SF1 vs Winner SF2 (Sunday 11 July)— All matches at Wembley, London
With AFP inputs
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