Super sub Fullkrug saves the day for table-topping Germany

Germany vs Switzerland in Euro 2024
Germany vs Switzerland in Euro 2024 (PC: X)

After convincing victories against Scotland (5-1) and Hungary (2-0), the hype around Germany’s football team was in overdrive. Switzerland, however, provided a big dose of reality in Frankfurt on Sunday night, with Germany extremely fortunate to escape with the 1-1 draw that saw them finish top of the group. In a team of highly rated youngsters like Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala, possessing a wily pass master like Toni Kroos, it was the journeyman veteran Niclas Fullkrug whose goal in the second minute of injury time gave Germany a share of the points. Fullkrug’s record is quite astonishing, having scored 13 times in 19 matches for Germany. He has started in just six of those.

But when David Raum’s cross came in from the left, it wasFullkrug who rose highest to guide the ball past Yann Sommer. It was heartbreaking for a Swiss team that had restricted Germany to half-chances all night, with the defence brilliantly marshalled by Manuel Akanji.

Musiala and Wirtz had been withdrawn with quarter of an hour remaining, with Julian Nagelsmann bringing on the experienced duo of Leroy Sane and Fullkrug. Apart from a shot early in the second half that forced Sommer into a smart save, Musiala had a night to forget, with his intervention having denied the hosts a first-half goal.

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Germany in Euro 2024
Germany in Euro 2024 (PC: X)

In the 17th minute, Robert Andrich had curled a shot from a distance that beat Sommer at his near post after a rushed clearance from Michel Aebischer. But VAR saved Sommer his blushes when it spotted that Musiala had followed in zealously and fouled Aebischer after he had kicked the ball away.

Emboldened by the reprieve, Switzerland grew into the game. And in the 28th minute, a lovely bit of build-up play culminated in Remo Freuler crossing for Dan Ndoye, who has a Senegalese father and plays for Bologna in Serie A, to volley home a superb goal. VAR confirmed that he had just stayed onside, and a couple of minutes later, he broke through Germany’s offside trap, again, only to steer his shot just wide of Manuer Neuer’s left-hand post.

Kroos went close from distance in the second half, and Akanji came up with an unbelievable block to deny Joshua Kimmich after he had been teed up by Wirtz, but Switzerland always looked a threat on the break. With six minutes of normal time remaining, Ruben Vargas, a second-half substitute, thought he had clinched it for the Swiss with an expert finish across Neuer, but VAR showed that he had bent his run a fraction too late.

Neuer then flung himself to his right to pull off a stupendous save from a first-time Granit Xhaka shot. Its value became apparent when Fullkrug craned those powerful neck muscles and bailed his team out.

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