Leon Goretzka’s golden aim saves Germany from Euro 2020 exit to Hungary
Germany, which won the Euro 96 in the final with a goal in extra time, scored another golden goal from substitute Leon Goretzka when they somehow survived a great shock and drew 2-2 against courageous Hungary and prepared a clash of the last 16 against the old rival England.
For a long time during a vibrant match in Munich, it looked like the Germans were on their way to bottoming out in the Group of Death against a team that was supposed to be the main weights of the mix.
It would have been one of the biggest surprises in European Championship history and Hungary deserved it. But just when it was thought the Germans were out, they came back 0-1 and 2-1 to somehow fight their way through, thus saving long-time coach Joachim Löw from ending his tenure in the worst possible way.
Löw, who won the World Cup with Germany in 2014, has been leading the team since 2006, but announced before this tournament that he was ready to throw himself up to the former Bayern Munich man Hansi Flick.
The fact that his team was eliminated at the 2018 World Cup in Russia for the first time in the history of German football would have been as unbearable as it was unthinkable. But that’s exactly what the iconic coach faced until Goretzka drilled a deflected shot home six minutes from time and put his team in second place in Group F.
It brings back memories of Oliver Bierhoff’s “Golden Goal” winner against the Czech Republic at Wembley 15 years ago, although there really is no comparison between the German team from 1996 and the current team, which are improving quickly in the K to am Survive Tuesday at Wembley.
In contrast, one has to regret the outsider Hungary, who must have believed on a glittering night in Munich that he was ready for a memorable victory.
They couldn’t have got off to a better start, with a goal scored in Germany – and that was scored against Germany – after just 11 minutes.
Roland Sallai, who plays his club soccer for Freiburg in the Bundesliga, gave captain Adam Szalai, who plays for Mainz 05, a perfect low cross to hit with a breathtaking header that shocked the home crowd.
It was the 24th international goal of the striker who had also scored against Austria in the 2016 European Championship. No wonder then that he is a cult hero among Hungary’s crazy supporters, who cheered their team to a shocking 1-1 draw against France in Budapest earlier this year, the group stage is a cult hero.
What a few years it is for Hungarians, a country that was once considered one of the football giants in Europe, but until France in 2016 had played 10 European Championship tournaments in a row without qualifying for the finals.
Those teams hadn’t played against each other in a tournament since the 1954 World Cup final, which Germany won 3-2, and there were few people who expected it to be a competition. But oh how wrong they were
The Hungarians were excellent in every department, not least in defense, where their three-man chain kept Germany in check for so long.
With a free kick from Szalai from the post they even came close to 2-0 before Germany finally woke up to a hectic game.
It was Chelsea’s Kai Havertz who, after a terrible mistake by Hungarian goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi in the 66.
Only when Low brought in a number of late substitutes did Germany’s squad save the day and keep them in the tournament by a thin margin.
Werner, Musiala, Müller and Volland all played a role in the final moments, and Goretzka ended up breaking the hearts of Hungarians in the most dramatic fashion when his piercing achievement found its way onto the net.
It was a goal that extended Low’s leadership role and kept the dream alive of saying goodbye in style after 16 years in office and 18 years on the coaching team.
Now England is waiting for you and this is a game that brings back memories of 1996 and Gareth Southgate’s missed penalty. The former midfielder, now of course England’s coach, is hoping for the ultimate revenge – and with this performance he has every chance.
Neuer 7, Ginter 6 (Volland 82; 6), Hummels 7, Rudiger 6, Kimmich 7, Gundogan 5 (Goretzka 58; 7), Kroos 6, Gosens 5 (Musiala 82; 6), Havertz 7 (Werner 82; 6) , Sane 5 Gnabry 5 (Muller 67; 6). Halstenberg, Leno, Sule, Neuhaus, Trapp, Can, Koch.
Gulacsi 7, Nego 8, Botka 8, Orban 7, Attila Szalai 7, Fiola 8 (Nikolic 88), Kleinheisler 7 (Lovrencsics 89), Nagy 7, Schafer 7, Adam Szalai 7 (Varga 82; 6), Sallai 8 (Schon 75; 6). Lang, Kecskes, Holender, Dibusz, Roland Varga, Siger, Bogdan, Nikolic, Bolla.
Referee: Sergei Karasev (Russia).