Euro 2024: Spain send host Germany out

Mikel Merino’s goal in the last moments of extra time gave Spain a dramatic 2-1 win over hosts Germany in an enthralling Euro 2024 quarterfinal clash between the tournament’s two most successful nations on Friday.

The eagerly anticipated match hit fever-pitch as the teams slugged it out at a raucous Stuttgart Arena filled by a majority of German fans who were left heartbroken after the hosts’ gritty display fell short by the narrowest of margins.

Spain were the better side for the first hour and wasted several opportunities before Dani Olmo gave them a deserved lead six minutes after the break, drilling home a first-time shot into the bottom corner.

Reuters reports that Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann made five substitutions in a desperate attempt to find the equaliser, which paid dividends in the 89th minute as substitute Florian Wirtz, the Bundesliga’s player of the year for champions Bayer Leverkusen, hammered home a shot from Joshua Kimmich’s header to force extra time.

The game was into the 119th minute and looked set for a penalty shootout when substitute Merino rose to head home the winning goal from Olmo’s cross.

“The heart is always more important than the legs,” Olmo said after the match. “Let’s take it easy and calmly, because in four days we have the semifinals.”

The hosts Germany pushed hard for a late leveler, and full-back Dani Carvajal was sent off after receiving a second yellow card for tackling Jamal Musiala to avoid a counter attack.

He and centre-back Robin Le Normand will miss the semifinal, as Spain held out to advance to the last four and a meeting with either Portugal or France.

“Well, I’m exhausted, to be honest,” Merino said. “The adrenaline is taking its toll on me now. It’s been a unique moment.

“There’s a lot of work behind it, especially from my teammates, who were doing a great job, and for them to equalise in the 90th minute is a setback, but it’s a reward for perseverance and I think we deserve it … We have shown that we know how to suffer, that we have a great team.”