Euro 2024: Mikel Merino’s Late Header Propels Spain into Semifinals with 2-1 Victory Over Germany

Euro 2024 showdown between Spain and Germany: Mikel Merino’s header in the last seconds of extra time gave Spain a thrilling 2-1 victory over Germany in the quarterfinals of Euro 2024, sending them to the semifinals.

Just one minute remained before penalties, and Merino made no mistake after receiving a pinpoint cross from Dani Olmo, propelling La Roja into the round of sixteen.

Euro 2024: Mikel Merino’s Late Header Propels Spain into Semifinals with 2-1 Victory Over Germany
Dani Olmo of Spain celebrates his first goal. Photo Credit: Sky Sports

With 14 minutes remaining, Niclas Fuellkrug hit the crossbar, but Florian Wirtz’s powerful knockdown of Joshua Kimmich in the 89th minute sent the game into overtime, seemingly guaranteeing an early retreat for the hosts.

As the game appeared to be headed to penalties with one minute left in extra time, Olmo lofted a cross for Merino, who helped Spain advance to the semi-finals and set a record for the most titles at the European Championship.

With ten years of subpar results at key competitions, Germany’s elimination ends the hosts’ hopes of a summertime fairytale Euros victory and puts a stop to Toni Kroos’ incredible career.

With three titles apiece, the matchup between the two most successful Euros teams—the in-form Spaniards against Nagelsmann’s rejuvenated hosts—was billed as a final come early.

Kroos was named by Spain as Germany’s most dangerous player ahead of the encounter, but the midfield player made a significant, if unintentional, early impact when he collided with Pedri, who was later substituted for Olmo due to a leg injury.

With the oldest team at Euro 2024, Germany found it difficult to match Spain’s pace in the first half, often entering duels a little bit too late. However, the hosts had the two best opportunities of the first half, both of which went to Kai Havertz.

With only the goalkeeper to beat in the first half, the Arsenal forward leaped highest to head a cross straight at Unai Simon. Later in the half, he curled a meek shot at the goalie.

Following a goalless first half, Nagelsmann substituted the pink-haired Robert Andrich with the unexpected starter Emre Can, and replaced Wirtz with the ineffective Leroy Sane.

But it was Olmo, the substitute who would leave his mark, who gave Spain the lead six minutes into the second half by neatly placing a Yamal pass past Manuel Neuer in the bottom left corner after slicing through the slumbering German defense.

Germany went into overdrive after the goal, with Wirtz looking especially dangerous. With fifteen minutes remaining, the Bayer Leverkusen starlet found Fuellkrug on the counter, but the striker could only hit the post because the Spanish defense was giving him a lot of attention. Nagelsmann brought veteran Thomas Mueller off the bench for his final substitute with ten minutes to go.

But in the last minute, 13 years younger than him, Wirtz made the difference by deftly tipping a header from Joshua Kimmich across the field and in at the far post to send the game into extra time.

With the goal beckoning, Mikel Oyarzabal, who had replaced Williams, curled a shot in the 104th minute just wide of the post, and Wirtz did the same a minute later.

In the second overtime period, Germany made a strong case for a penalty after a goal-bound effort by Jamal Musiala made contact with Marc Cucurella’s outstretched hand.

Following the thrilling penalty shootout, Olmo curled in a cross for Merino, who leaped high to head the ball past Neuer and advance Spain to the semifinals of the European Championship.

Also Read: France’s Victory Over Portugal in Penalty Shootout to Set Up Euro 2024 Semi-final Against Spain

Euro 2024: Mikel Merino’s Late Header Propels Spain into Semifinals with 2-1 Victory Over Germany
Spain advanced in the 119th minute thanks to Mikel Merino. Photo Credit: Sky Sports

Luis de la Fuente, Head Coach of Spain:

“My guys have no self-control. This is the kind of player I’m happy to train. Several of them I’ve known for a long time.

“They have the chance to win [the tournament], and they are accustomed to competing at the greatest level.” This group will always be competitive. Of course, there’s always space for development, but their pride, caliber, and dedication are undeniable.

“This evening is historic. Being able to represent our nation makes me proud. We’ll see how far we can go with this team, but we have no doubts about how far we can go.”

We are completely in control of our euphoria. Even if we’re overjoyed, we understand that tomorrow is already here. Although we have no influence over external events, we are grateful for the nation’s support.”

Regarding Germany’s assertive strategy, he continued, “This is football. This doesn’t surprise me because I’m from the 1980s and you want to see how they played back then. “What do you want, they blow kisses?’ I asked one. These are limitless matches. No compromising once you pass the white line.”

Julian Nagelsmann, Head Coach of Germany:

“The first half of the game was far too open. We were definitely the superior team after the break, having outperformed them in the second half. Our [equalizer] was rightfully late. The final opportunity was given away to the winner. Regretfully, we were unable to exert sufficient force on the wing.

“I informed the players they had no right to be eliminated from the competition. All of us miss our families, but none of us desired to part from them. There has been a positive vibe in the group since the start of these last six weeks. We obviously gave it our all to win this game.”

“Every player put forth their best effort to win the game, regardless of whether they started or came off the bench. It is an unpleasant one.

Regarding the departing Toni Kroos, Nagelsmann continued, “One cannot overvalue Toni’s accomplishments. It’s undoubtedly unusual for a player who is German. He’s undoubtedly one of the main players in Germany. While his achievement is widely known, not everyone is as familiar with his personality. He addressed the group during a very trying time in his own life. He considers himself a member of this group at all times.

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