Substitute Leon Goretzka scored a last-gasp equalizer and secured Germany a spot in the last 16 following a two-all draw with resilient Hungary at the Football Arena Munich on Wednesday.
The Germans took the reins from the starting whistle and were able to keep Hungary’s defence busy in the opening period.
Hungary’s defence was able to soak up Germany’s pressure and flabbergasted the hosts with the opener against the run of the game as Adam Szalai headed home a long ball into the penalty area with 11 minutes into the match.
Germany remained in control but failed to create dangerous chances in the final third against Hungary’s bulwark.
With 21 minutes gone, Germany eventually reaped their first promising chance after Mats Hummels headed to the crossbar from close range. It remained Germany’s only note worthy chance against deep defending visitors.
After the break, Germany took over again but Kai Havertz effort on target was an easy task for Hungary goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi in the 52nd minute.
As soon as Hungary approached Germany’s goal, they caused trouble as Szalai rattled the woodwork following a free kick at the hour mark.
Germany at last was able to level the scores with great assistance of Gulacsi who underestimated a sweeping free kick Toni Kross, allowing Kai Havertz to head home into the open goal in the 66th minute.
Hungary’s resistance wasn’t broken yet as Marco Rossi’s men restored their one-goal lead with their next attack after Szalai’s assist found Andras Schafer, whose header beat onrushing Germany custodian Manuel Neuer two minutes later.
Germany head coach Joachim Low reacted and fielded Thomas Muller, Timo Werner, Jamal Musiala and Kevin Volland. Low’s substitution paid off in the dying minutes of the game as Musiala’s build-up and Werner’s blocked shot landed in the path of Goretzka, who made no mistake and scored the crucial equalizer after slotting the rebound past Gulacsi.
With the draw, Germany clinched their berth in the round of the last 16 meanwhile courageous Hungary crash out of the tournament.
“I’m very proud that we performed the way we did, but I’m disappointed at falling short. We’ve played ever so well. We can’t complain; we’re proud of how we’ve played,” Hungary midfielder Roland Sallai said.
“We are of course relieved. We fell behind twice and had to run behind a deficit. That is of course not easy against a deep defending opponent. It was a thriller until the final whistle,” Germany captain and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said.
France (5 points) finish on top of Group F followed by Germany, Portugal (both 4 points) and Hungary (2 points).
XINHUA | MUNICH