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Spain vs Germany: Dramatic Merino goal sends Spain to Euro 2024 semifinals

Mikel Merino’s last-minute extra-time goal clinched a thrilling 2-1 victory for Spain over Germany, securing their place in the Euro 2024 semifinals.

First Half: Tension and Missed Opportunities

The first half saw both teams locked in a tense, goalless battle. Spain’s quick-paced game contrasted with Germany’s veteran squad, but neither side could break the deadlock. Germany’s Kai Havertz came closest, testing Spain’s goalkeeper Unai Simon twice but failing to convert.

Olmo Breaks the Deadlock

After a tense, goalless first half, Spain broke the deadlock in the 51st minute. Six minutes into the second half, Spain’s Dani Olmo seized an opportunity. Receiving an inch-perfect pass from young sensation Lamine Yamal, Olmo slotted the ball past Germany’s Manuel Neuer, putting La Roja ahead.

Germany’s Fightback

With 14 minutes remaining, Niclas Fuellkrug’s shot struck the post, signalling Germany’s desperation. In the 89th minute, Florian Wirtz finally brought the hosts level, driving home a knock-down from Joshua Kimmich and sending the match into extra time.

Extra Time Drama

As the game seemed destined for penalties, Olmo delivered a decisive cross in the final minute of extra time. Mikel Merino rose high to head the ball into the net, clinching a 2-1 victory for Spain and securing their place in the semifinals, keeping their hopes alive for a record-breaking fourth Euros title.

Germany’s Exit and Kroos’ Farewell

Germany’s exit ended their hopes of a triumphant home victory and marked the end of Toni Kroos’ illustrious career. The clash between these football giants, both with three European titles, was anticipated as a final before the final. It showcased Spain’s top form against a rejuvenated German side under coach Julian Nagelsmann.

Key Moments and Tactical Changes

Spain’s pre-match identification of Kroos as a key threat proved accurate. Kroos’ early collision with Pedri, resulting in Pedri being substituted for Olmo, had a significant impact on the game. Despite their veteran lineup, Germany struggled with Spain’s pace, often arriving late to duels.

Also Read: EURO 2024 Quarter-Finals: Spotlight on the Last Eight

In response to a goalless first half, Nagelsmann substituted Emre Can for Robert Andrich and replaced the ineffective Leroy Sane with Wirtz. Olmo, who had replaced Pedri, made an immediate impact, scoring six minutes into the second half after weaving through Germany’s defence to convert Yamal’s pass.

Final Flourishes and Controversies

Extra time saw close calls from Mikel Oyarzabal and Wirtz, both narrowly missing the target. Germany’s appeals for a penalty after Jamal Musiala’s shot hit Marc Cucurella’s hand were denied. In the dying moments, Olmo’s cross found Merino, whose decisive header ended Germany’s campaign and propelled Spain into the semifinals.

Spain’s Path to Glory

Spain’s victory not only secured their place in the semifinals but also kept alive their hopes for a record-breaking fourth Euros title. As they advance, La Roja will look to build on this thrilling win and continue their quest for European glory.

Samuel Bolaji

Samuel Bolaji holds a Master of Letters in Publishing Studies from the University of Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. He is an experienced researcher, multimedia journalist, writer, and Editor. He is currently the Editor of Arbiterz.

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