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UEFA EURO Round of 16: Matches 4-6 Review

Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images )
Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images )


The UEFA Euro 2016 entered the knockout rounds with some blockbuster games on the cards. After Saturday’s games saw Poland, Wales and Portugal overcome Switzerland, Northern Ireland and Croatia respectively, it was time for Sunday’s typically enthralling round of fixtures.

France Vs Republic of Ireland 

Ireland squared off against hosts France in Lyon looking to banish the old memories against Les Bleus when they controversially beat Ireland to World Cup qualification in the previous meeting in 2009 as William Gallas scored the aggeragate winner after the ball had deflected off Thierry Henry’s hand. Ireland had revenge and a historic place in the quarter finals awaiting them with a win.

The Irish took the lead early on in the 2nd minute as Robbie Brady scored from the penalty spot following Paul Pogba’s foul on Shane Long. A stunned Stade De Lyon watched in disbelief as the ball entered the net, which was in contrast to the small group of Irish fans, who were jubilant. France now had a huge task on their hands against a stern Ireland side who managed to shun out Italy to get to the knockout rounds.

The French had complete control for the rest of the first half with Dimitri Payet and Paul Pogba constantly causing trouble to the resilient Irish defence. Pogba came close with a free kick from nearly 30 yards out but was denied by goalkeeper Darren Randolph. In the first half stoppage time, Payet, Giroud and Griezmann had shots blocked in a matter of seconds as Ireland looked to hold on.

The second half started with France taking off the already-booked N’Golo Kante for more drive in the attack in the form of Kingsley Coman. The change worked a treat for the French as Coman’s direct style of play created several chances. France did eventually manage to equalise after several attempts, as Antoine Griezmann met Bacary Sagna’s cross with a perfect header past Darren Randolph.

France scored again minutes later when Olivier Giroud layed down a long ball and a one-on-one with the goalkeeper for Griezmamm who calmly slotted in his and France’s second. The hosts were untroubled for the rest of the game but were continously probing the Irish defence – even forcing a red card for Shane Duffy after a poor tackle on the Antoine Griezmann. Ireland were devoid of ideas, and down to 10 already, they could barely trouble Didier Deschamps’ side. They failed to hold on to their early lead and were heading on a flight back to Dublin. France, meanwhile were heading to Stade de France for the quarter finals.

Germany Vs Slovakia

Defending World Champions met tournament debutants Slovakia in Lille to determine a spot in the quarter-finals. Slovakia, who qualified as one of the best third-placed teams in a group containing Wales and England had an in-form Marek Hamsik in midfield to bolster their charge. The game started off with Germany instantly on the front foot as Sami Khedira had a shot deflected over the bar. The first goal of the afternoon, scored by Jerome Boateng, came from the resulting corner.

Germany had the chance to double their lead less than 5 minutes later after captain Martin Skrtel fouled Mario Gomez in the box to award Germany a penalty, which Mesut Ozil failed to scored from.

Germany kept showing their true quality throughout the game, a lot of which has been absent in their performances so far. Their calmness on the ball combined with the ability to make chances with ease proved to be effective as they managed to score for a second time towards the end of the first half. Some fantastic play by Julian Draxler down the left flank was met with an easy tap in by Mario Gomez to seal a brilliant move by the Joachim Low’s side.

Slovakia had a few chances of their own after the break, but none of them were able to trouble Manuel Neuer in goal. The Germans were in their comfort zone and trebled their lead soon after the hour mark. Julian Draxler smashed a loose ball into the roof of the net past stranded goalkeeper Kozacik to clear any lingering doubts of a German collapse. A staggering performance from Low’s well-oiled German machine saw them through to the quarter finals of the European Championships.

Hungary Vs Belgium

Belgium faced surprise-packages Hungary in Toulouse in Sunday’s late game. While Belgium sealed qualification as runners-up of Group F behind Italy, having beaten the Republic of Ireland and Sweden convincingly in their two previous games, Hungary sprung a surprise and won Group E, beating Iceland and Portugal to the top spot. Hungary, though, had shown their strengths as well as weaknesses in their last group game against Portugal which finished as a mind-boggling 3-3 draw. They had to better that result and performance if they had to had any chance of qualifying.

Belgium started on the front foot and gained a huge advantage in the 10th minute as defender Toby Alderweireld met Kevin de Bruyne’s fizzling cross to head past Gabor Kiraly. Hungary responded well as they constantly attacked for the rest of the half, with Gergo Lovrencsics coming close for the Hungarians.

Belgium were proving to be a force on the counter-attack as the pace of Hazard, Mertens, De Bruyne and Lukaku was proving to be a hefty task for the Hungarian defence. Thibaut Courtois was forced into action several times in the second half but was able to resist the Hungarian pressure. Hungary, who were on a historic run, wanted to further their progress in the Championships and were resilient in defence, looking to score an equaliser themselves. That resilience was broken by the brilliance of Eden Hazard who ran through their defence to send in a wonderful cross to substitute Michy Batshuayi, who had a simple tap in. Belgium were on their way.

The lead was added to just two minutes later as Hazard’s magnificence came into play once again. He comfortably glided through the Hungarian defence after starting down the left flank and powered a shot past stranded Gabor Kiraly. Despite the three-goal deficit, Hungary played as if they had nothing to lose and continued to show a positive attitude towards the tie.

The Belgians added insult to injury in the last minute as substitute Yannick Carrasco scored in the final minute of the game to seal an emphatic 4-0 victory and qualify through to the quarter-finals to meet Gareth Bale’s Wales side. Hungary were defiant, Belgium were dominant.

About Karan Tejwani

Football fan with massive interest in Europe. Also cover youth football from across Europe.

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