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Merino’s Last-Minute Heroics Propel Spain to Euro 2024 Semifinals

Dramatic Extra-Time Victory Over Germany

In a match that will be remembered for its intensity and dramatic twists, Spain defeated tournament host Germany 2-1 in extra time to advance to the Euro 2024 semifinals. The thrilling quarterfinal clash in Stuttgart showcased the resilience and determination of Luis de la Fuente’s squad, setting the stage for a potential championship victory in Berlin.

Spain’s triumph came courtesy of a 119th-minute header by substitute Mikel Merino, who celebrated his goal with a run around the corner flag, mimicking his father Miguel Merino’s iconic celebration at the same stadium in 1991 during a UEFA Cup match for Osasuna against Stuttgart.

Reflecting on his decisive goal, Merino shared, “I knew that there was very little time left and that it was one of the last attacks we would have. I didn’t believe that it had gone in until a couple of seconds later. When you get 30 slaps on your back, it sinks in real quick. I am very happy for me and the entire team. It all comes down to one moment, but there is so much work behind it, all the training, the hope, the faith, and the belief in ourselves.”

The match’s extra time was necessitated by a last-minute equalizer from Germany’s Florian Wirtz, who capitalized on Joshua Kimmich’s header to send the game into an extended period. Spain had initially taken the lead early in the second half through Dani Olmo, who was set up by Lamine Yamal, becoming the youngest player to record three assists in the tournament’s history.

Despite a valiant effort, Germany fell short, leaving their players and fans heartbroken. The loss marked the end of Toni Kroos’s illustrious career, with the 2014 World Cup winner expressing his disappointment. “We were so close, that’s what makes it so bitter,” Kroos said. “We all had a big goal that we wanted to achieve together. And this dream we all had has been simply shattered now.”

Germany’s coach, Julian Nagelsmann, maintained a sense of humor despite the defeat, joking, “It’s hurting also that we have to wait two years to become world champion.” The game was marked by intense physicality, with early injuries and controversial refereeing decisions adding to the drama. Pedri’s injury in the eighth minute, following a heavy challenge from Kroos, forced an early substitution, setting a record for the fastest replacement in Euros history.

Spain’s victory also came with its own set of challenges, as defender Dani Carvajal was sent off late in extra time, ruling him out of the upcoming semifinal against France. Robin le Normand will also miss the match due to suspension. France, on the other hand, secured their place in the semifinals by defeating Portugal in a penalty shootout.

The match between Spain and Germany was a showcase of high-caliber football, with both teams demonstrating why they are considered among the best in Europe. The action-packed game saw numerous opportunities for both sides, with Germany’s Nico Füllkrug hitting the post and Spain’s goalkeeper Unai Simón making crucial saves to keep his team in the game.

Spain’s path to the semifinals marks the first time they have eliminated the host nation in a major tournament on their tenth attempt. The team’s performance has reignited hopes of a Euro 2024 championship, with their next challenge being the formidable French squad.

As Spain prepares for the semifinals, the focus will be on maintaining their momentum and addressing the tactical challenges posed by France. The players and fans are united in their belief that they can continue their winning streak and lift the trophy in Berlin.


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