Spain dump out hosts Germany in extra-time to reach Euro semis


Spain became the first nation to dump the hosts out of a European Championship at the quarter-final stage after Mikel Merino’s 119th-minute header snatched an epic 2-1 win over Germany in Stuttgart.

Merino, who made 25 appearances for Newcastle in the 2017/18 season, rose to meet Dani Olmo’s cross to send Spain into a semi-final against either France or Portugal on Tuesday night in Munich.

Substitute Olmo’s strike lit the blue touch paper moments into the second half after not initially being selected from the start – replacing the injured Pedri after just eight minutes.

Spain's Mikel Merino (6) scores his side's second goal during a quarter final match between Germany and Spain at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, Friday, July 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
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Spain have scored two goals via substitute players in a European Championships match for the second time, after the final against Italy at Euro 2012

Julian Nagelsmann turned to Niclas Fullkrug, who immediately caused the Spanish defence problems and struck the near post when he outmuscled Nacho to meet Florian Wirtz’s cross.

There would be late drama as Germany refused to let the opportunity of a home Euros slip them by with Wirtz converting Joshua Kimmich’s header back across goal following Maximilian Mittelstadt’s deep cross.

Spain feared the prospect of a shoot-out against a nation who haven’t lost one since 1976 – but Merino’s dramatic winner ensured there would be no further heartache from 12 yards having gone out of the last three major Championships in such fashion.

Dani Carvajal was shown a second yellow card in the final seconds of the match but La Roja held on.

Germany's Toni Kroos walks off the pitch after a quarter final match between Germany and Spain at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, Friday, July 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
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Germany’s Toni Kroos walks off the pitch after his final game

How Spain sent Germany packing

Olmo has contributed to goals in his last 3 games in the European Championship (2 goals, 1 assist)
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Olmo has contributed to goals in his last three games in the European Championship (2 goals, 1 assist)

Germany only got going after Olmo’s intervention. Their coach Nagelsmann threw everything he could at resuscitating his below-par charges, but Spain appeared far too savvy in the eye of the Stuttgart second-half storm.

They had never won against the host team in a knockout match in the Euros or the World Cup. At the 10th attempt, that changed.

The Spaniards have been in imperious form at this tournament in recording five straight wins with electric duo Nico Williams and Lamine Yamal a constant menace for opposing defences down the channels. Replicating the achievements of 2008 and 2012 is coming into sharp focus.

Spain broke the deadlock through Olmo's fine strike
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Spain broke the deadlock through Olmo’s fine strike

Team news

  • Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann made two changes to his line-up with Jonathan Tah and Emre Can coming in to the team to face an unchanged Spain.
  • After missing their last game against Denmark due to suspension, Tah returned to the line-up to play as Antonio Ruediger’s centre-back partner in place of Nico Schlotterbeck while Can made his first start in the tournament replacing Robert Andrich in midfield.
  • The only surprise with Spain’s line-up was that manager Luis de la Fuente fielded an unchanged team in consecutive games for the first time since taking over in January 2023.

After a feisty first half which saw Kai Havertz come closest to breaking the deadlock with half chances – one header straight at Unai Simon and another that lacked power on his right foot – Spain seized their moment.

On the eve of this contest, Pedri had hoped this would prove Toni Kroos’ last game as a professional, but the Barcelona midfielder was forced off following a firm challenge from his Real Madrid counterpart inside five minutes. The Spanish federation later confirmed that the player had suffered an internal lateral sprain to his left knee.

Germany's Toni Kroos (8) and Ilkay Gundogan speak with Anthony Taylor
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Germany’s Toni Kroos (8) and Ilkay Gundogan speak with Anthony Taylor

Kai Havertz missed the best of the first half chances
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Kai Havertz missed the best of the first half chances

The game lost a supreme talent but gained another in Olmo, whose intelligence shone throughout. While playing here for RB Leipzig last season, he was part of a 5-2 hammering against Stuttgart.

But it was the clever timing of his run onto Lamine Yamal’s low ball which appeared to have settled this tetchy contest six minutes after the restart.

Germany were only then in a hurry as Wirtz and Fullkrug were summoned off the bench. Havertz failed to capitalise on a poor clearance by Simon as his attempt from distance landed on the roof of the net. It was one of 11 attempts in normal time after Olmo’s opener.

Spain retreated, they wasted time. They thought they had won. But Wirtz had other ideas as he kept his composure to steer Kimmich’s header back across goal into the far corner via the post.

Florian Wirtz is Germany's youngest ever knockout stage goalscorer at the EUROs (21y 063d)
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Florian Wirtz is Germany’s youngest ever knockout stage goalscorer at the EUROs (21y 063d)

Nearly an entire additional 30 minutes passed of shots being traded without a knockout blow – until Merino crushed the dreams of the majority inside the MHP Arena with his well-placed header from Olmo’s cross.

There was still time for Carvajal to receive a second bookable offence for cynically hauling down Jamal Musiala, already in the knowledge he was suspended in the event of a semi-final.

That could so easily have been snatched away from Spain moments earlier when Fullkrug met Thomas Muller’s cross at the near post but headed wide.

This was only the fourth match in EUROs history to see three different players score as a substitute (excl. own goals), after Russia v Czechia in EURO 1996, Italy v Austria at EURO 2020, and Croatia v Spain at EURO 2020
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This was only the fourth match in EUROs history to see three different players score as a substitute (excl. own goals), after Russia v Czechia in EURO 1996, Italy v Austria at EURO 2020, and Croatia v Spain at EURO 2020

Stats: Story of the match

Merino breaks Germany hearts

A late equaliser from Germany in normal time, a late winner from Spain in extra-time. This one took a while to get going but when it did, my word is was pulsating.

This really was a case of two European heavyweights slugging it out with 39 fouls in this match, the most in a single Euros fixture since Croatia faced Portugal in 2016.

Olmo started the game on the bench but had a big impact
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Olmo started the game on the bench but had a big impact

Spain were on their knees when Florian Wirtz struck, but their pedigree saw them over the line. It is now six times they have reached the semi-finals at the European Championship, with only Germany (8) participating in more in the tournament’s history.

Mikel Merino failed to set pulses racing during his time at Newcastle, scoring once in 25 appearances before being shipped out to Real Sociead after just one season.

But this is the beauty of international football. His leap reminded me of Tim Cahill, legs spread like a frog as he ghosted behind Antonio Rudiger to place his header into the corner.

This was the third-latest winning goal in a UEFA European Championship match (118:52), after Michel Platini for France vs Portugal at Euro 1984 (118:53) and Artem Dovbyk for Ukraine vs Sweden at Euro 2020 (120:36).

Three suspended – one very doubtful player for Spain

  • Dani Carvajal – sent off for two yellow cards (was suspended anyway on one yellow)
  • Robin Le Normand – suspended for breaching yellow card limit
  • Alvaro Morata – booked for celebrating the winner and breached yellow card limit
  • Pedri – highly unlikely to play given his early knee injury

Keane: Like two heavyweight boxes swinging for each other

Joshua Kimmich has assisted his second goal at the 2024 European Championship, more than any other Germany player
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Joshua Kimmich has assisted his second goal at the 2024 European Championship, more than any other Germany player

Sky Sports’ Roy Keane on ITV:

“We watch all levels of football, and the percentage of goals that come from crosses. If you just keep putting it in the right area…

“It was like two heavyweight boxers swinging for each other. Players off the bench will impact these Euros. Those impacts will be huge.

“There’s fatigue, they’re tired physically and mentally. Rudiger will feel he did better for the goal. But let’s give credit to Merino.

“It wasn’t cagey. Some teams would sit at half-time of extra-time but both teams went for it. Love it. The winning goal was about getting the ball wide and bodies in the box. Just like the old days!”

Perfect Spain – Opta stats

Spain's Dani Olmo celebrates after scoring the opener
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Spain’s Dani Olmo celebrates after scoring the opener

  • Spain have won all five of their matches at Euro 2024 – they are only the third nation to win five in a row within a single edition of the finals (excluding shoot-outs), after France at Euro 1984 and Italy at Euro 2020, both of whom won those respective tournaments.
  • Germany have lost three of their last four knockout-stage games at the Euros (W1), as many as in their previous 12 at the finals beforehand (W7 D2 L3 – won both penalty shoot-outs after the two draws).
  • Dani Olmo became the first Spaniard to score two goals as a substitute at a single edition of the Euros, and third at any major tournament (World Cup/Euros), after Fernando Morientes at the 2002 World Cup and Álvaro Morata at the 2022 World Cup.
  • Spain’s Lamine Yamal, aged just 16, became the first ever teenager to record three assists at a single edition of the Euros (all-time) or World Cup (on record, since 1966).

Who plays who in the semi-finals?



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