Spain romp past Croatia in opener as Yamal makes Euros history

Spain romp past Croatia in opener as Yamal makes Euros history
Spain romp past Croatia in opener as Yamal makes Euros history

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - MUNICH: Host Germany could hardly have wished for a better start to the European Championship.
Goals from Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala in an imperious first half set Germany on the way to a confidence-boosting 5-1 win over 10-man Scotland in the Euro 2024 curtainraiser on Friday.
While Germany didn’t really have to break sweat against a sub-par Scotland at Allianz Arena, it was the ideal result to launch their tournament and ramp up excitement in the country.
“Yes, that’s exactly the way we wanted to start and, to be honest, we needed a start just like that,” Germany captain İlkay Gündoğan told German broadcaster ZDF. “I had a good feeling before the game already, to be honest, and it came true, thank God.
“But exactly this atmosphere, the euphoria in the stadium now with our own fans, that’s exactly what we need in order to go far.”
Pre-tournament title expectations of the Germans were underwhelming after they crashed out of their last three major tournaments. But they’ve opened with their biggest victory in Euros history.
They dominated the first half, which ended in the worst possible way for Scotland when defender Ryan Porteous was sent off and Kai Havertz converted the resulting penalty kick. Substitutes Niclas Füllkrug and Emre Can piled on to Scotland’s misery after the break.
“The first 20 minutes were very impressive. The first goals were very good,” Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann said. “It’s very valuable that many players performed well early on.
“It was only the first step but a very good one and we can build on this one. We’re very happy.”
Scotland, which hadn’t had a shot on goal all match, managed to give their raucous fans something to celebrate late on when the ball was bundled into the back of the net off Germany defender Antonio Rüdiger for an own goal.
Steve Clarke’s side will have to do better against Hungary and Switzerland if they are to get out of Group A and reach the knockout stage for the first time.
“Difficult night. We didn’t play to our standard. The German team were excellent,” Clarke said.
“We feel as though we’ve let ourselves down. We’re better than that. Hopefully we can show that the next two games.”
Scotland’s Tartan Army of supporters started the match in fine voice, but they were swiftly quietened when Wirtz scored in the 10th.
Toni Kroos picked out Joshua Kimmich with a brilliant crossfield lob and he rolled it across for Wirtz to fire in.
Wirtz became Germany’s youngest Euros goal-scorer at 21. Musiala, 67 days older than Wirtz, doubled Germany’s tally nine minutes later after combining well with Havertz.
Right on halftime, Scotland goalkeeper Angus Gunn only parried a header from Gündoğan, but just when the captain appeared set to tuck home the rebound he was upended by a thunderous challenge from Porteous.
Referee Clément Turpin showed Porteous a straight red card and awarded Germany a penalty, which Havertz converted.
Scotland managed to hold out in the second half until an attempted exchange between Musiala and Gündoğan fell kindly for Füllkrug. The substitute, who came on only five minutes earlier, unleashed a thunderbolt into the top right corner.
Scotland’s late consolation came when Kieran McKenna’s header from a free kick went in off Rüdiger.
Still, Scotland conceded five goals for the first time in 12 years when Can, who was brought into the squad only two days ago as a late replacement for the ill Aleksandar Pavlovic, curled in in stoppage time.
“A great feeling and a crazy story ... I was on vacation two days ago” Can told ZDF. “Then the call came on Wednesday, and on Wednesday evening I met up with the team, trained once yesterday, came in today (off the bench), scored a goal. I’m thankful to Julian (Nagelsmann) and the whole coaching staff that they put their trust in me.”
Late German soccer great Franz Beckenbauer was honored before the match, and the capacity crowd included German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Scotland First Minister John Swinney, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
Hungary are next in Germany’s sights on Wednesday, when Scotland play Switzerland.

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