20 Jun 2024, 09:47

Hosts Germany through to last 16 of Euros, draws for Scotland and Croatia

STUTTGART, Germany, June 20, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Hosts Germany became the first team to qualify for the knockout phase of Euro 2024 on Wednesday thanks to a 2-0 win over Hungary, while Scotland drew with Switzerland and Croatia's hopes of progressing were left hanging in the balance after they were held by Albania.

Germany followed up their 5-1 demolition of Scotland in the tournament's opening game by seeing off the Hungarians in Stuttgart, with Jamal Musiala and Ilkay Gundogan scoring either side of half-time.

Julian Nagelsmann's team have a maximum six points with one game still to come in Group A, and are certain to progress to the last 16 at least as runners-up in the section.

Hungary put up a fight but the hosts had too much quality in the final third, with Bayern Munich star Musiala firing in the opener midway through the first half after captain Gundogan refused to give up a lost cause in the box.

Germany then doubled their lead on 67 minutes as Gundogan, of Barcelona, swept home an assist by Maximilian Mittelstaedt.

Their recent struggles appear to be a thing of the past, and Germany have now won their opening two games at a World Cup or European Championship for the first time since Euro 2012.

"We were determined to win today and confirm our performance against Scotland," said goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

"We were dominant and deserved to win. You could see the euphoria in the stadium."

Hungary's hopes of progressing now hang by a thread, while group rivals Switzerland and Scotland played out a 1-1 stalemate in Wednesday's late match in Cologne.

- 'Good reaction' -

Scotland, backed by a large and noisy support, went ahead early on when Callum McGregor cut the ball back for Scott McTominay to score with a shot that went in via a big touch off Fabian Schaer.

However, Switzerland equalised when Xherdan Shaqiri pounced on a stray pass by Anthony Ralston to smash a superb first-time strike high into the net.

The Swiss saw Dan Ndoye miss a glorious second-half opportunity and Breel Embolo have a goal disallowed for offside, but Scotland deserved the draw which keeps their hopes alive.

They might even have won the game, with Grant Hanley hitting the post from a late header.

"The players knew what they needed to do. I thought it was a good team performance against a good opponent," said Scotland boss Steve Clarke.

"It was a good reaction to a disappointing night and we are still alive in the tournament."

Switzerland, quarter-finalists at Euro 2020, may already have enough points to progress but a draw against Germany on Sunday will make sure of second place.

Scotland, who have not won a match at a major tournament since beating the Swiss 1-0 at Euro 96, can still qualify with a win over Hungary in Stuttgart.

- Gjasula saves Albania -

Elsewhere, Albania's Klaus Gjasula scored at both ends, including a dramatic injury-time equaliser as his side drew 2-2 with Croatia in Hamburg.

After a disappointing 3-0 loss to Spain in their opening game in Group B, Croatia were behind again when Qazim Laci gave Albania an early lead.

But Croatia improved after the break and Andrej Kramaric levelled with 16 minutes remaining, before Gjasula put through his own net.

The Albania midfielder became the last-gasp saviour, though, slotting into the bottom corner in the fifth minute of injury time to snatch his team a point.

Croatia, World Cup semi-finalists in 2022, will now likely need to win their final Group B match against holders Italy on June 24 to reach the knockout phase for a fifth straight major tournament.

"We will believe until the very end, to give our best as we did in this match," said forward Kramaric.

"Unfortunately we didn't win but we hope to be a bit luckier against Italy."

Albania have won plenty of plaudits with their performances against both Italy, in a 2-1 defeat, and Croatia, but could not hold a lead in either game and will probably have to beat Spain to keep their last-16 hopes alive.

"We have to go forward but we have to fight for every single point," said Albania's Brazilian coach, Sylvinho.

"It's important for our lives, the life of the country, the federation. I'm proud of the players so we have to enjoy the moment."

Group rivals Spain and Italy meet in Gelsenkirchen in the standout tie on Thursday, while England face Denmark and Slovenia take on Serbia in Group C.


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