Merino last-gasp goal sends Spain to Euro 2024 semis after dramatic extra-time win over Germany

STUTTGART, Germany — Substitute Mikel Merino headed Spain into the semifinals of the European Championship as they snatched a 2-1 win over Germany in extra time on Friday.

Florian Wirtz’s equalizer in the last minute of regulation time sent the gripping quarterfinal to extra time after Dani Olmo — who set up Merino’s winner — netted the opener early in the second half.

“It was the game we expected,” Merino said, “because we were facing one of the best teams in the world. This could have been a final, and it sure played out that way. This was a game between elite teams, a constant back and forth, and we showed that we have a great team.”

Spain defender Dani Carvajal was sent off late in extra time for a second yellow card and will be suspended from Tuesday’s semifinal against Portugal or France. Fellow defender Robin le Normand will also miss that match after picking up another booking.

The result ended the career of Germany’s Toni Kroos, who announced he would retire at the end of the tournament.

The quarterfinal pitted the teams who have played the best soccer at Euro 2024, and it didn’t disappoint.

There was a blistering pace from the start with crunching tackles and end-to-end action.

Kroos was lucky not to be booked for a mistimed challenge that upended Spain midfielder Pedri.

Another hefty challenge moments later saw Pedri leave the field injured and in tears as he was replaced by Olmo in the eighth minute, the fastest replacement in the history of the Euros.

From the resulting free kick, Lamine Yamal almost became the youngest ever goal-scorer at the tournament but the 16-year-old’s effort flashed past the right post.

Yamal did have a hand in the opener as he cut inside from the right and rolled the ball across for Olmo to hit it first time into the bottom left corner.

It was Yamal’s third assist of the tournament, the most by a teenager at a Euros.

Substitute Nico Füllkrug hit the post in a late desperate onslaught by Germany, which was rewarded just in the nick of time.

Joshua Kimmich nodded Maximilian Mittelstädt’s cross back to Wirtz, whose effort went in off the far post.

Both teams had more chances to win in extra time before Merino leapt high to head in Olmo’s cross and send the Spanish fans behind the goal into a frenzy.


AP Euro 2024:

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