KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- World champions France, European title-holders Portugal and Germany all march on after the dramatic grand climax to the Euro 2020 group stage.
The duels between France and Portugal in Budapest as well as the clash of Germany and Hungary in Munich both ended 2-2. The overall losers in the so-called Group of Death were Hungary who finished bottom of the table despite a brave performance in the Allianz Arena.
Cristiano Ronaldo was the individual winner.
Juventus’ 36-year-old forward converted two penalties to equal Iranian Ali Daei’s record of 109 international goals while achieving a European record of 21 in major tournaments.
This is two more than old German hero Miroslav Klose. Ronaldo’s 14 goals in Euro finals also leaves old French star Michel Platini far adrift on nine.
The most high-profile clash in the round of 16 will be England’s rematch with Germany at Wembley on Tuesday. Portugal defend their crown against the world’s No1-ranked nation, Belgium, in Seville on Sunday while France face Switzerland in Bucharest on Monday.
In Budapest Didier Deschamps’s Frenchmen kicked off with a slot in the round of 16 already in their possession. Portugal needed at least a draw and began with an aggressive intent which took the French by surprise.
Kylian Mbappe wasted one massive chance to put France ahead after being sent through in the 16th minute by Paul Pogba before Portugal teased the French defence ever more threateningly down the right wing.
Pressure paid off on the halfhour. French captain Hugo Lloris leaped to punch a cross and punched Danilo’s head instead. Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoj awarded a penalty for dangerous play despite furious French protests. Ronaldo nervelessly converted the spot-kick.
Two minutes into stoppage time it was the turn of Portugal to react angrily to a penalty award after Nelson Semedo bowled over Mbappe. Karim Benzema’s penalty was his first goal for his country in six years.
Benzema’s second followed two minutes after the interval when he converted another perceptive through pass from Pogba. Initially Benzema was flagged offside but a VAR review confirmed the goal.
Portugal had gone from top of the group to bottom yet they needed only a draw to progress. They achieved it with another Ronaldo penalty on the hour after his attempted cross had been deflected by Jules Kounde’s arm.
Simultaneously in Munich Hungary took a shock 11th-minute lead through Adam Szalai.
A roller-coaster second half saw Kai Havertz equalise in the 66th minute then the Magyars immediately regain the lead from the kickoff through Andras Schafer. Finally Germany were relieved by Leon Goretzka’s equaliser with six minutes remaining.
89 Mokhtar Dahari (Malaysia) – 142 appearances
84 Ferenc Puskás (Hungary) – 85 appearances
79 Godfrey Chitalu (Zambia) – 111 appearances
78 Hussein Saeed (Iraq) – 137 appearances
77 Pelé (Brazil) – 92 appearances
76 Ali Mabkhout (United Arab Emirates) – 92 appearances
75 Sándor Kocsis (Hungary) – 68 appearances
— Kunishige Kamamoto (Japan) – 76 appearances
— Bashar Abdullah (Kuwait) – 134 appearances
Group F — Portugal v France
Portugal: Rui Patrício – Nélson Semedo (Dalot 70), Rúben Dias, Pepe, Guerreiro – João Moutinho (Neves 72), Danilo (Palhinha 46), Renato Sanches (Oliveira 88) – Bernardo Silva (Bruno Fernandes 72), Ronaldo, Diogo Jota.
France: Lloris- Koundé, Varane, Kimpembe, Hernández (Digne 46, Rabiot 52) – Pogba, Kanté – Tolisso (Coman 66), Griezmann (Sissoko 87), Mbappé – Benzema.
Referee: Mateu Lahoz (Spa)
Group F – Germany v Hungary
Germany: Neuer – Ginter (Volland 82), Hummels, Rüdiger – Kimmich, Gündoğan (Goretzka 58), Kroos, Gosens (Musiala 82) – Havertz (Werner 67), Gnabry (Müller 68), Sané.
Hungary: Gulácsi – Négo, Botka, Orbán, At. Szalai, Fiola (Nikolić 88) – Kleinheisler (Lovrencsics 88), A Nagy, Schäfer – Ad. Szalai (Varga 82), Sallai (Schön 75).
Referee: Karasev (Rus)