EURO 2016


Germany squeeze past Italy on penalties to make semis

Germany moved into the semi-finals of Euro 2016 but their un-German-like inefficiency in a penalty shootout with Italy almost cost them dear before Jonas Hector kept his head.

Germany squeeze past Italy on penalties to make semis
The Germans maintained a remarkable record of shootout successes. Photo: DPA

Germany missed three penalties before triumphing 6-5 in a rollercoaster 18-penalty shootout as Hector slotted home his kick under the diving Gianluigi Buffon and raced into his teammates' arms.

They will face the winners of Sunday's match between host nation France and surprise package Iceland in a semi-final on Thursday.

“It's hard to put it into words, but I am overjoyed that it went in,” Hector said.

“There weren't many people left. I knew I had to take one at some point and I had my heart in my mouth.”

Germany also shook off the hoodoo against old foes Italy, winning for the first time in nine attempts.

“Si, si, si, the curse against Italy is broken,” Bild newspaper said.

The Germans maintained a remarkable record of shootout successes — you have to go back to 1976 for the last time they lost on penalties in a major tournament.

Joachim Loew's side had appeared to be heading for victory after Mesut Ozil lashed into the net to give them a 65th-minute lead, but in a moment of madness Jerome Boateng handled in the area.

Leonardo Bonucci calmly converted the penalty 12 minutes from the end of normal time and it ended 1-1 on 90 minutes.

With no goals in a turgid extra-time, Ozil, Thomas Mueller and Bastian Schweinsteiger all failed from the spot for Germany, who are usually so reliable from 12 yards.

But after Simone Zaza and Graziano Pelle missed for Italy and Bonucci was denied by Germany 'keeper Manuel Neuer, Matteo Darmian's failure to convert the Azzurri's ninth kick paved the way for Hector to become Germany's hero.

Baby-faced Joshua Kimmich, 21, also converted when bigger names missed.

“The experienced players missed and the younger guys came through, so that's quite positive,” Loew said.

Italy's campaign had shown promise with wins against Belgium and over reigning champions Spain in the last 16, but like so many sides before them they were undone on penalties by Germany.

Coach Antonio Conte said: “I'm very proud of what the team achieved here.

“The only regret is the penalty kicks. But for commitment to the shirt, I can't fault them.”

The game had been billed as the pick of the quarter-finals, but large spells of the game in Bordeaux were uneventful.

Germany talisman Schweinsteiger again started on the bench but was introduced after quarter of an hour to replace the injured Sami Khedira.

Schweinsteiger found the net just before the half-hour mark but his effort was disallowed.

Loew had sprung a surprise by bulking up his defence, dropping the previously excellent Julian Draxler.

Germany dominated possession but Buffon was untroubled by a Mario Gomez toe-poke while the veteran goalkeeper also easily saved from a Mueller shot late in the first half.

Italy responded in kind, Emanuele Giaccherini seeing his cutback go all the way to Stefano Sturaro, whose low drive was deflected behind for a corner.

The opener arrived on 65 minutes as Gomez pounced on some slack defending by Alessandro Florenzi before finding Hector in space.

The full-back's attempted cutback came off Bonucci but fell to Ozil, who fired past Buffon from close range.

Germany could have gone further ahead when Ozil found Gomez in space with a great chip, but the striker's outrageous backheel was superbly saved by Buffon and the offside flag came up anyway.

Italy looked down, but they were not out.

An unmarked Pelle got his left foot to Florenzi's low cross but fired off target, and minutes later the Azzurri pulled level after the ball came off the arm of Boateng in the area.

Hungarian referee Victor Kassai immediately pointed to the spot and Bonucci stepped up to beat Neuer low to the goalkeeper's.

It was the first goal Neuer had conceded at the tournament after four successive clean sheets.

But he would play his part in the shootout, saving from Bonucci and Darmian.




British football teams allowed to skip Germany’s quarantine for Euro 2020

Germany's government announced on Tuesday it will allow England, Scotland and Wales to enter the country without quarantine to play at Euro 2020 despite a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Britain.

British football teams allowed to skip Germany's quarantine for Euro 2020
One of the venues for Euro 2020 is in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The three teams could potentially reach the quarter-final held in Munich on July 2nd.

If that were the case, they would be exempt from the rule that travellers from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must currently observe a 14-day isolation period due to the virus strain of concern – Delta – first identified in India.

“The people accredited for the European football Championship are exempt from the quarantine obligation, even after arriving from an area impacted by a variant” Berlin said in a statement.

“This exemption concerns all the people who have been accredited by the organising committee for the preparation, participation, the holding and the follow-up of international sporting events,” it added.

The exemption does not include fans, who will be obliged to follow German government self-isolation rules.

Germany declared the UK a ‘virus variant area of concern’ on May 23rd due to rising cases linked to the Delta variant in parts of the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany makes UK ‘virus variant area of concern’: How does it affect you?

This reclassification came just seven days after the UK was put back on Germany’s list at the lowest risk level, and barely a month after it was taken off all risk lists completely.

The ban was put in place despite the UK’s relatively low Covid rates as a precautionary measure.

A general ban on entry is in place for people coming from countries on the ‘virus variant’ list – such as India and Brazil – the highest of Germany’s risk categories. 

There are some exceptions for entering from these countries – for example German residents and citizens. However, anyone who does enter from Germany is required to submit a Covid-19 test before boarding the flight and must quarantine for 14 days on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules after travel

Euro 2020 starts on Friday as Italy host Turkey in Rome with the Bavarian city hosting three group games as well as the last-eight match.

Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the Allianz Arena for the fixtures.