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)
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.

How Spain sent Germany packing

Olmo has contributed to goals in his last 3 games in the European Championship (2 goals, 1 assist)
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 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
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
Germany’s Toni Kroos (8) and Ilkay Gundogan speak with Anthony Taylor

Kai Havertz missed the best of the first half chances
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.

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.

Stats: Story of the match

Who plays who in the semi-finals?

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