Spain knock Germany out and retire Toni Kroos as three stars let Euro 2024 hosts down | Football | Sport

Mikel Merino headed home in the 119th minute of extra-time to send Spain through to the Euro 2024 semi-finals and dump Germany out of their home tournament. La Roja backed up their claims of being the best in the business with a stunning result in hostile territory to set up a blockbuster clash with either France or Portugal in the last four. Here, Express Sport takes you through four key talking points from a high-stakes showdown in Stuttgart…

Spain knock Germany out

The first period was filled with edge and entertainment but chances were hard to come by. Kai Havertz had two of them, heading the first straight into the hands of Unai Simon and directing a second on target with his weaker right foot.

Spain had one good look at goal through Nico Williams but they had greater opportunities during an action-packed second half, starting with Alvaro Morata blazing over from eight yards. Four minutes later, Lamine Yamal drove towards the box and laid a low, inviting cross on a plate for early substitute Dani Olmo, who swept it in first time.

Germany turned to Niclas Fullkrug as full-time approached. The perennial dangerman off the bench; he hit the woodwork from close range but couldn’t find the equaliser they desperately needed. Havertz was handed another gilt-edged opportunity late on when Simon was caught miles off his line, but the Arsenal forward’s audacious chip sailed over.

Then, the hosts sparked bedlam when Florian Wirtz directed a half-volley in off the post in the 89th minute to force extra-time. It was high-octane stuff from both sides with a semi-final spot at stake, but the pendulum swung Spain’s way – and decisively – when Merino headed home minutes away from the lottery of a penalty shootout.

As Germany fought back in the final moments, Dani Carvajal hauled down Jamal Musiala and received his second booking of the game, capping off a breathless encounter.

Toni Kroos bows out

Kroos’ final moments as a professional footballer were always going to unfold at Euro 2024. But the former Real Madrid and Bayern Munich maestro would have wanted them to come in a victorious final – not in an ill-fated quarter-final.

With six Champions Leagues and a World Cup in his trophy cabinet, they don’t come much more decorated than Kroos. But the 34-year-old and his Germany team-mates couldn’t get past Spain in Stuttgart, and his career ended in agonising fashion.

La Roja star Joselu said before the match he hoped to put his former team-mate into retirement, and that’s exactly what his nation did with moments remaining.

Three stars let Euro 2024 hosts down

David Raum had the beating of Yamal in the first-half, but he gave him too much time moments before Spain’s opening goal as the teenager darted inside and rolled an inviting ball across to Olmo.

Also waiting for the dust to settle after a tough day at the office is Leroy Sane. The former Manchester City winger was picked ahead of Wirtz after much pre-match debate, but he created precious little out wide and was hauled off at the interval.

Antonio Rudiger’s tough moment didn’t come until the depths of extra-time. Seemingly blind to the threat posed by Merino lurking behind him, the Madrid star went to sleep and it proved costly.

That man Yamal

It’s a wonder that a player of 16 is even playing at Euro 2024, let alone influencing a quarter-final between arguably the two strongest teams at the tournament. But that’s exactly what that man… or that boy, Yamal, did on Friday evening.

Taking his time to pick out a measured ball for Olmo saw him notch his third assist of the tournament. Looking towards a semi-final and a possible final, Yamal will be desperate to put the icing on the cake by netting one for himself.

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