Germany weather storm to reach Euro 2024 quarter-finals

BERLIN: Switzerland dumped reigning champions Italy out of Euro 2024 with a stunning 2-0 win on Saturday, reaching the quarter-finals for the second time in their history.
Murat Yakin’s highly-coached side edged past the two-time winners in the last 16 in Berlin and will face either England or Slovakia in the next round.
Ruben Vargas played in Remo Freuler for Switzerland’s 37th-minute opener before curling in superbly early in the second half to double their deserved lead.
A new-look Italy, bereft of star power and without many of the key figures who led them to Euro 2020 glory, offered little in response to Switzerland’s energetic display.
Former Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka, arriving at the Euros after a stunning season with German champions Bayer Leverkusen, pulled the strings as the Swiss rarely looked like letting the lead slip away.
Italy coach Luciano Spalletti withdrew Jorginho after his worrying group stage performances, bringing on Nicolo Fagioli in defensive midfield among six changes that failed to spark the Azzurri into life.
The 23-year-old started a major tournament game for the first time, missing most of the season with Juventus, following a seven-month ban for gambling on football matches.
Italy went through to the first round thanks to Mattia Zaccagni’s last-gasp strike in the 1-1 draw with Croatia, and Spalletti said his side had no choice but to improve in the knockout rounds.
However, it was Switzerland who grew in confidence and produced their best performance yet, making a bright start at the Olympiastadion in a sweltering Berlin, where a far more impressive Italy won the 2006 World Cup .
Former goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, now head of Italy’s delegation, regaled the team with stories from that triumph but failed to inspire a convincing performance – apart from his modern counterpart, Gianluigi Donnarumma.
The Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper, key to Italy’s Euro 2020 triumph, produced a fine save to deny Breel Embolo midway through the first half as Switzerland created their first real chance by breaking past him.
Donnarumma could not prevent Freuler from firing Switzerland ahead in the 37th minute when the midfielder controlled Vargas’ cross and swept home at the near post.
Switzerland kept the ball for more than a minute in the build-up, stringing together 33 passes before Freuler, who plays for Serie A side Bologna, applied the finishing touch.
Donnarumma made a fine save to tip Fabian Rieder’s free-kick onto the bar before half-time as the Swiss looked to match their best ever performance at the Euros by reaching the last 16.
Hosts Germany needed a late equalizer to avoid defeat against the Swiss in the group stage, while at previous Euros they eliminated France in the last 16, so Italy can’t say they weren’t warned.
Spalletti brought on Stephan El Shaarawy on the stroke of half-time for Zaccagni, but Italy kicked off and Switzerland doubled their lead just 27 seconds into the second half.
Augsburg midfielder Vargas, who started in place of the suspended Silvan Widmer but on the left of attack, broke into the area and curled a superb shot past Donnarumma.
The closest Italy came to scoring in the first hour was when Swiss defender Fabian Schar misjudged a header and hit his own goal.
Substitute Mateo Retegui produced Italy’s first shot on target as the clock ticked down and the almost invisible Gianluca Scamacca hit the bar from close range but appeared to be offside.
The teams have drawn twice in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, with the Azzurri failing to qualify for the tournament but going one better in Germany, securing their first win against Italy since 1993 after 11 winless runs.

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