Spain ease past Georgia, England secure dramatic win over Slovakia

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Spain ease past Georgia, England secure dramatic win over Slovakia

Spain recovered from one goal down to overpower stubborn Georgia 4-1 in Euro 2024 round of 16 at Cologne's sold-out Rhein-Energie Stadium on Sunday, reported Xinhua.

Spain started on the front foot and created several chances in the opening stage, but Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili was equal to the efforts from Daniel Carvajal and Pedri, while Nico Williams pulled wide from the edge of the box.

The opener was scored at the end of the pitch though and with great assistance of Spain defender Robin Le Normand, who cleared Otar Kakabadze's cross into the wrong goal giving Georgia the 1-0 lead in the 18th minute.

Spain responded with furious attacks and had to wait as Fabian Ruiz, Pedri and Marc Cucurella couldn't beat Mamardashvili, who had his hands full of work.

Luis de la Fuente's men got eventually rewarded for their power play just before the half time as Williams teed up for Rodri, whose left-footed shot into the bottom right corner left Mamardashvili chanceless in the 39th minute.

Georgia remained dangerous after the break as Khvicha Kvaratskhelia tried to catch Spain custodian Unai Simon flat-footed with a shot from the distance.

Spain went in search of the lead and made it 2-1 with 51 minutes gone as Lamine Yamal's pinpoint cross found Ruiz, who nodded home from close range.

Georgia went all in and got caught off-guard following a counterattack as Fabian's long ball allowed Williams to finish the job with a solo run and hammer into the roof of the net in the 75th minute.

The relentless Spaniards weren't done with the scoring and made it four in the closing stage after Dani Olmo's low strike beat Mamardashvili into the bottom left corner.

With the victory, three-time Euro champion Spain clashes with tournament host Germany in Stuttgart's MHP Arena on Friday.

"It was as expected, a tough match for us. We knew that, but we made our own life difficult in the first half. We were also nervous after we conceded the goal but responded well with the equalizer before halftime. We must show our best football against tournament hosts Germany now," said Spain's player of the match Rodri.

Meanwhile, Jude Bellingham's stoppage time equalizer forced Slovakia into overtime and allowed Harry Kane to head the 2-1 decider in Euro 2024 last 16 at Gelsenkirchen's Arena AufSchalke on Sunday.

Offensively-minded Slovakia surprised England with a powerful opening period and came close twice but neither David Hancko nor Lukas Haraslin was able to break the deadlock despite promising chances.

Slovakia's efforts eventually paid off as David Strelec's good build-up work and assist helped Ivan Schranz to break the deadlock with 25 minutes into the game. It was Schranz's third goal of the tournament.

The Three Lions tried to increase the pressure but failed to turn their 77 percent of possession into a tangible reward in the first half.

Things changed after the restart as Gareth Southgate's men thought they had leveled the scores with just five minutes into the second half. However, Phil Foden's goal was ruled offside.

England was lucky that Slovakia didn't double its lead as Strelec's long-range shot missed the empty net just wide moments later.

As the match progressed, England lacked in ideas to overcome Slovakia's compact defence albeit Declan Rice rattled the woodwork from a distance in the 81st minute.

Francesco Calzona's boys tried to protect their narrow lead to the end but got punished late in the dying seconds as Bellingham drilled the stoppage time equalizer with an overhead kick into the top right corner to stun resilient Slovakia.

Things went from bad to worse for Slovakia as the Three Lions completed their comeback with the kick-off of the overtime, as Kane headed home his 65th goal for England to seal the quarterfinal encounter against Switzerland.

"It is a massive moment, but it's a long tournament and we will only know it if we go on to win the cup. We will decide in the next two weeks how important it is," said Bellingham.

"I feel proud, we played a great game against a world-class team and one of the favorites. We allowed England very little, we almost advanced. Unfortunately, we didn't make it," said Slovakia coach Calzona.

England will now face Switzerland in the quarterfinal in Dusseldorf on July 6.

Source: www.dailyfinland.fi

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