EURO 2024: Reliving the chaotic rollercoaster of gameday 2 fixtures

Euro 2024
File – The empty stadium is seen after sunset during a German Bundesliga soccer match between Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Dortmund in Frankfurt, Germany, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. The European Championship in Germany is all about tried and tested stadiums with a rich soccer history. Unlike at some recent World Cups, there’s been no rush to finish stadiums on time. (AP Photo/Michael Probst,Pool, File)

The Group Stage action from the 2024 EURO’s continued this past week and here’s the breakdown of every game 2 from every group.

Croatia 2-2 Albania – Group B 

To kick off the 2nd round of group stage games, Euro 2024 had a Group B clash between Croatia and Albania. Both teams lost their opening games, with Albania losing to Italy and Croatia being beaten 3-0 by Spain. A loss for either team would knock them out of the tournament. 

Albania, just like their game against Italy, started well in the early portions of the game, with them taking the lead just after 11 minutes when a cross into the box was headed past Livakovic by Qazim Laci to put Albania 1-0 up. 

The game was surprisingly open for a while, with both teams looking for a win and eliminating the other, but we had to wait quite a while for the next goal, it wasn’t until Kramaric picked the ball up in the box, spun his man, and finished brilliantly to draw Croatia level in the 74th minute. 

Things went from bad to worse for Albania as just a few minutes later, and just minutes after coming on as a substitute, Klaus Gjasula turned the ball into his own net to put Croatia 2-1 up and Albania was heading out of the tournament. There was nothing Klaus could do, his keeper made a save, it hit one defender, then hit Klaus and went into the back of the net. 

As it looked like Albania was heading out of the tournament, Klaus Gjasula completed his redemption story in the 95th minute when Albania went on the attack, played the ball into the box, it took a slight deflection off a Croatian defender and Gjasula smashed it home from around 10 yards out to keep his nations hopes in the tournament alive. 

Germany 2-0 Hungary – Group A 

After their 5-1 smashing of Scotland, where they scored all 6 goals in the game, tournament hosts Germany took on Hungary, where with a win, Germany could qualify for the Round of 16. Hungary needed a win to keep their tournament hopes realistically alive. 

The Germans were impressive once again in this one, and while they didn’t go on to completely dominate Hungary like they did Scotland, they were always comfortable in the game. Julian Nagelsmann’s tactics are fascinating to watch with the way he has that front 4 of Musiala, Havertz, Wirtz, and Gundogan working. 

Euro 2024
FILE – The trophy is on display during the presentation of the European soccer championship ‘EURO 2024’ trophy at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. The European Championship in Germany is all about tried and tested stadiums with a rich soccer history. Unlike at some recent World Cups, there’s been no rush to finish stadiums on time. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

Germany took the lead 22 minutes in with a goal that came from weird circumstances. Gundogan was played through in the box but Orban met him at the ball and the two collided. Orban then went down, Gundogan picked the ball up off him, slipped it to Musiala, who finished past Gulacsi. Everyone was confused with whether Gundogan fouled Orban, but VAR deemed it fair, so the goal stood and Germany had the lead. 

Manuel Neuer made a fantastic save from a Hungarian free kick to keep his country’s lead intact and to keep the momentum shifting for Hungary. Germany did what they always do and that was control the game until they took their chance and doubled their lead through Ilkay Gundogan. After some really good buildup play, the ball was slipped into the box and Gundogan finished home from close range to win Germany the game and make sure the host nation is the first team through to the Round of 16. 

Scotland 1-1 Switzerland – Group A 

The final game from Wednesday’s games was a crucial game for Scotland in Group A as they faced Switzerland, who were looking to join Germany in the Round of 16. Scotland got a dream start to the game as the tournaments trend of early goals continued after Scott McTominay’s shot inside the box was deflected past Sommer in the Swiss net to put Scotland into a dream 1-0 early lead. 

Scotland would quickly turn the game from a dream to a nightmare within 10 or so minutes from taking the lead as a terrible, no look back pass ended up feeding Shaqiri through, who met it first time and smashed it into the top corner from around 20 yards out. Yet another goal of the tournament contender. 

Switzerland had a great chance to take a 2-1 lead soon after their equalising goal but Angus Gunn made a great save from Ndoye’s close-range effort. Ndoye had another chance to score, after an unbelievable touch and turn from a long ball over the top, but his shot was, once again, saved by Gunn. 

Scotland then went close and they really should have re-taken the lead when a free kick was whipped to the back post but the resulting header from 5 or 6 yards out crashed against the post. The game ended 1-1, which leaves Switzerland on 4 points and Scotland just with 1 point. 

Slovenia 1-1 Serbia – Group C 

To kick off the next day of Euros action on Thursday we had a Group C clash between Eastern European teams Slovenia and Serbia. Both teams had solid chances to take the lead early in the game, but both goalkeepers were at their best to match the shots they faced. 

Slovenia came close in the first half, when a shot from just outside the box hit the post and rebounded to Sesko, who got the ball caught under his feet and couldn’t quite get his shot on target, huge missed opportunity for them. 

Jan Oblak then pulled off a phenomenal close range save from a Mitrovic effort after a free kick found the Serbian forward around 6 yards out from goal. To start the 2nd half, Oblak would make another save from Mitrovic, something that was a big theme of the game. 

Slovenia would be the team that broke the deadlock after hitting Serbia on a counter attack. Elsnik’s ball into the back post would find Karnicnik, who had a simple tap in to fire his nation into the lead. 

Serbia suddenly woke up and had a plethora of chances to tie the game up but it was looking like they’d wasted those chances and Slovenia would get all 3 points. That was until Luka Jovic would pop up in the 95th minute when he managed to head home from a corner, which would end up being the last touch of the game. 

Denmark 1-1 England – Group C 

Following on from the late drama from the previous game, it was time for the two favourites to qualify in Group C, England and Denmark, to face off with eachother. England was on top during the opening stages of the game and they took advantage of that when Harry Kane fired in his first goal of the tournament from close range and England found themselves in an early lead. 

From that moment on, England did what they always do, made a terrible tactical decision and decided to sit back and defend the 1-0 lead they possessed. Unsurprisingly, that cost England and after a multitude of quickfire chances from Denmark, the Nordic nation found themselves level minutes after the half hour mark. The ball fell to Hjulmand, who perfectly hit his shot from 25 yards out and it went in off the post. 

The 2nd half was all Denmark again but England managed to hold on for the remainder of the game. Foden came close to restoring England’s lead but he could only hit the post from just outside the box. Denmark came close to a winner during the 2nd half, but they also couldn’t find the back of the net, so the points were shared. 

Spain 1-0 Italy – Group B 

To finish Thursday’s action off we had a headline clash of the titans between Spain and Italy, who were both looking for a win to basically win the group. Spain was incredible in this game once again, they looked frightening going forward and looked really solid at the back too. 

Euro 2024

Italy looked like they were holding on to dear life when playing Spain in this one, they didn’t look anything like they did when they won the 2020 Euros and Spain could smell blood in the water. Morata, Williams, Yamal, and others all had major chances in both halves for the Spanish but it wasn’t until a Calafiori own goal 55 minutes into the game that put them into the lead. 

I can’t even say that Italy looked better now that they were a goal down and went looking for an equaliser because they didn’t. Italy ended the game just having 4 total shots and just over 40% possession. Spain now tops the group on 6 points, with Italy just on 3. 

Slovakia 1-2 Ukraine – Group E 

To kick off the next day of group stage action we headed off to Group E to see Slovakia, after their record breaking upset over Belgium, take on Ukraine who were looking to recover from a 3-0 beating from Romania.  

Slovakia started the game on top and forced a couple of great saves from Ukrainian goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin, the best of which was a close range save at his front post. Slovakia took advantage of the early pressure they were putting Ukraine under and took the lead 17 minutes in, when a Haraslin cross to the back post found Schranz who head back across Trubin. 

Ukraine started the 2nd half much better and they were back level with Slovakia when they sprung a counter attack, built the move up well, and Arsenal’s Zinchenko found Shaparenko in the box, who finished smartly. 

Both teams went looking for a winner, which made the game a great one to watch, but it was Ukraine with 10 minutes left in the game who broke the deadlock.  

After a ball over the top from goalscorer Shaparenko, substitute Yaremchuk brought the ball down with an unbelievable touch, and then finished through Dubravka’s legs to give his team a dramatic win and put them alongside Slovakia in the standings, both with 3 points. 

Poland 1-3 Austria – Group D 

We moved to Group D for the remainder of the day’s action and first up it was Poland vs Austria, with Poland needing to pick up points to have a chance of staying in the competition. 

Austria started the game really well, trying to build off their great performance against France in the opening game, and they were rewarded for their good start on the 9th minute mark, when Trauner headed in at the front post from a Mwene cross. 

Austria dominated a lot of the first half but couldn’t create chances like the one they got their goal from earlier in the game and they paid the price when Poland struck level after some pinball in the box caused the ball to land to Piatek, who took a great touch and finish. 

Austria looked more comfortable in the 2nd half and after a lot of control over the game, they retook the lead through Baumgartner. After a brilliant pass from Prass, Baumgartner had the ball at the edge of the box, weaved his way through a couple defenders and slotted the ball home. 

Austria had a great chance to get their 3rd of the game shortly after their 2nd goal but Szczesny made a great save. Austria did get their 3rd just before the 80th minute mark when Sabitzer found his way through 1-on-1 with Szczesny and the Polish keeper took him out in the box. Arnautovic slotted the penalty home and Austria would go on to win 3-1. 

Netherlands 0-0 France – Group D 

To finish the day’s action off we had the other Group D game and this one was between the two giants in the group, the Netherlands and France. France would have to play the game without star player Kylian Mbappe due to his broken nose and that wasn’t a good sign for them as they’ve not scored or won in competitive games without their main man. 

Soccer euro 2024
CLAIRE FONTAINE – NOVEMBER 15 : Kylian Mbappe is warming up during the 2nd training of the French Soccer National Team prior to the departure for the Soccer World Cup 2022, at the Centre National du Football, Clairefontaine in Yvelines, France. (Photo by Glenn Gervot/Icon Sportswire)

The Netherlands came closest to opening the scoring when Bayer Leverkusen’s Jeremie Frimpong was played through the French defence, but his shot was brilliantly tipped around the post by Mike Maignan. 

France had an amazing chance to take the lead when Rabiot was played through but instead of shooting, the midfielder decided to try and square the ball to Griezmann, who wasn’t expecting the ball and the chance went to waste after looking like a certain goal. 

Griezmann went close to an opening goal near the end of the first half, but his effort from inside the box just went wide of the near post. Real Madrid’s Tchouameni had a great chance to start the 2nd half but he couldn’t keep his header below the crossbar.  

Griezmann had another wonderful chance to give his side the lead later on in the 2nd half when he was played in at the back post, but his first touch was heavy and he couldn’t get his shot away. 

The Netherlands then thought they had taken the lead when Xavi Simons fired in on a rebounded effort and then stadium went insane for the goal. That was until VAR stepped in and called offside through interference with the goalkeeper by Denzel Dumfries. In my opinion, it’s one of the worst decisions I’ve seen in a long time. The game ended 0-0, the first of the competition, but the Dutch definitely felt robbed and it was justified. 

Georgia 1-1 Czechia – Group F 

To kickstart the final day of game 2 action in the group stages we headed to Group F and a clash between tournament debutants Georgia, and Czechia, both knowing that a win in this one would go a long way for qualification. 

The game started with both teams going for it and looking for an early goal, it was Czechia however, who thought they’d taken the lead 25 minutes in when Hlozek bundled to ball over the line after a weird coming together with Mamardashvili in the Georgian net. VAR ruled it out however, after replays showed the ball bounced off Hlozek’s face, then his arm, and then into the back of the net. 

Jubilation for Georgia right before half time as the referee was advised to look at his VAR monitor and deemed that the ball, from a Georgia free kick, was handled in the box by a Czechian defender. Mikautadze stepped up with a nation on his shoulders and finished brilliantly to put Georgia 1-0 up. 

Czechia completely dominated the 2nd half and tried everything to could to break Georgia’s defensive efforts down but they were struggling and that was down to one man, Mamardashvili, who put in one of the best goalkeeper performances I’ve seen in some time. 

60 minutes into the game however and Czechia had their breakthrough from a corner. The ball was played in, flicked onto the back post by a Georgian player and Leverkusen’s Patrik Schick tapped home the rebound. 

Czechia had a number of huge chances to win this game but again, they couldn’t beat Mamardashvili in the Georgian net, who’s unbelievable performance earning him the Man of the Match award.  

Gerogia then had the dream scenario with the game looking like a draw with seconds left on the clock. 3 Georgian attackers against one Czechia defender, it looked certain Georgia was about to win the game with the last kick of the game but Saba Lobjanidze produced an absolutely awful finish that blazed over the bar and the game ended 1-1. 

Turkey 0-3 Portugal – Group F 

We headed to the final group, Group F, for this game it was a clash between Turkey and Portugal. Turkey had the perfect chance to go 1-0 up early on but Akturkoglu produced, probably, the miss of the tournament as he missed an open goal from around 3 or 4 yards out. 

Portugal took the lead and gained control of the game from here on out after 21 minutes gone when a deflected ball into the box found Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva, who thumped home the opener around 12 yards out from goal.  

Euro 2024
FILE – Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo attempts a shot at goal during the international friendly soccer match between Slovenia and Portugal at the Stozice stadium in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Tuesday, March 26, 2024. The 24-team lineup is complete and all roads now lead to Germany for the European Championship. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic, File)

Things went from bad to worse for Turkey as 7 minutes later Samet Akaydin produced one of the most embarrassing own goals you’ll ever see in a game of football. The Turkish centre-back cut out Ronaldo’s attempted through ball and tried to play it back to his goalkeeper, but Altay had already come out for the ball and Akaydin didn’t look as he passed the ball past his goalkeeper and into his own net to put Portugal 2-0 up. 

Portugal controlled the rest of the game and Turkey never really got back into it after the embarrassing own goal moment. They tried their best near the end of the game but Portugal was 3-0 up by then as Bruno Fernandes had tapped home a 3rd 56 minutes in after Ronaldo was played in behind the defence and, surprisingly unselfishly, squared it to his former Manchester United teammate for Portugal’s 3rd

Belgium 2-0 Romania – Group E 

To round this phase of the group stage out we headed back to Group E and for a game between Belgium, who were looking for their first points of the tournament, and Romania, who were looking to build upon their thumping of Ukraine. 

Belgium started the game in the best way possible as after almost 2 minutes had gone in the game, Lukaku managed to lay the ball off to Tielemans on the edge of the box, and the Aston Villa midfielder smashed home the opening goal of the game. 

Romania had a great chance to draw level just minutes later but Dragusin’s header was tipped over the bar well by Casteels. Nita in the Romanian net was up next with a great save from a Lukebakio shot from inside the box.  

Romelu Lukaku thought he’d put Belgium 2-0 up in the 2nd half when he was played through on goal and he slotted the ball away well, but VAR stepped in and ruled him offside by, maybe the skin on his kneecap, it’s the closest offside call you’ll ever see. Lukaku is still yet to score at the tournament, but he would be the leading goalscorer if his 3 goals weren’t all ruled out. 

Dennis Man then had a fantastic chance late on in the 2nd half to put Romania back on level terms when he was played through on goal, but his shot was hit straight at the keeper when it should have been slotted past him instead. 

Belgium then killed the game off with 10 minutes left when a Casteels goal kick went all the way through and over the Romanian defence and found Kevin De Bruyne, who finished brilliant past Nita. Belgium had their first win of the tournament, a win that puts every team in Group E on 3 points with 1 game to go. 

AP Photo/Michael Probst,Pool, File