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Leon Goretzka's late goal saved Germany
Leon Goretzka's late goal saved Germany, who will now face EnglandImage: Lukas Barth/epa/dpa/picture alliance

Germany progress in Euro 2020 after Hungary scare

Jonathan Harding Munich | Michael Da Silva
June 24, 2021

On a night of high drama, Germany have squeezed into the last 16 of the European Championship with a 2-2 draw with Hungary. Germany had been minutes away from going out but will now face England in the last 16 in London.


Germany 2-2 Hungary, Munich
(Havertz 66', Goretzka 84' — Szalai 11', Schäfer 68')

If Germany’s win against Portugal was them arriving at the tournament, this dramatic draw against Hungary was a reminder that the frailties of this side still linger. Germany may have finished second in Group F but they sneaked rather than strode through to the knockouts of Euro 2020.

The result could be characterised as another example of Germany willing themselves out of a losing position.

"We made mistakes, but fought and showed sensational character," Joachim Löw said afterwards.

Leon Goretzka’s impact, Joshua Kimmich’s commitment and Joachim Löw’s ability to react in-game were all proof of that, but beyond that lies a familiar issue: when the opposition doesn't make it easy, Germany struggle.

"Our poor performance was more to do with our game against the ball than with it," Kimmich said afterwards. "We wanted to perform differently and we have to analyze that."

The celebratory feel of Germany’s victory against Portugal and the early evening sun had been swapped for a wet, dark evening full of political overtures. Everything about this game was different, from the weather to the loud boos that Germany fans directed towards Hungary’s supporters. This game felt as charged as the build-up to it had been, and it threatened to spill over when a fan ran broke through security to hold up a rainbow flag in front of the Hungarian team during the anthems.

UEFA’s refusal to grant the request to light up the Allianz Arena in rainbow colorsdidn’t stop the city of Munich handing out rainbow flags to fans outside the stadium. If this was an evening to show your colors, then the majority of German fans did.

True colors shown

Germany’s team did too though. The bite and intensity on show against Portugal had disappeared. Despite having 70% of the ball, Germany waded through midfield as the stagnant use of possession returned. And when Mats Hummels was caught out early on, Germany were facing an exit their performance merited. In attack, Germany were left hoping a Hummels header off the bar had gone in.

Then came the wind and the rain and Germany’s Euros appeared to be being washed away with it. Instead, Löw, to his credit, used it to clean the slate as he swapped to a back four and moved Kimmich into midfield.

Hope came briefly in the form of goals elsewhere and an equalizer from Kai Havertz, but then Cristiano Ronaldo scored again against France in Budapest and Andras Schäfer scored a second for Hungary. Germany were staring another group-stage exit in the face.

Germany passed and passed and passed but couldn’t find a way through. Löw grew desperate and turned to Timo Werner, then the ailing Thomas Müller and even later Kevin Volland and Jamal Musiala.

Fittingly, it was Goretzka who saved Germany. For the man so vocal about the need for a diverse world to score the equalizer in this game after the last few days added to the drama. Goretzka’s goal put Germany through, and the energy in his celebration — the Bayern Munich midfielder ran past the visiting supporters with his fingers curled into a heart shape — was probably enough to light up the stadium.

"At the end of it all, you have to say to get through this group is good and that was our goal," Löw said afterwards. Kimmich said the performance put a "dampener on the group" because Germany "should have handled it more comfortably."

Germany might have topped the group had Leroy Sané's cross been on target. The difference was a Round of 16 clash against Switzerland and England, but Sané’s wayward delivery was a microcosm of another chance not taken by the Bayern Munich winger who looked to have played himself out of contention.

Still in the tournament, Germany still have a chance of winning Euro 2020 but for this team, that title looks to be at the end of the rainbow.

Go to page two to relive the action!

As it happened:

FT — Germany 2-2 Hungary — It's all over! Germany have saved themselves with a late goal by Leon Goretzka and will face England in the last 16 in London. Germany were six minutes away from going out and now find themselves on the 'weaker' side of the draw. But England at Wembley, it won't be easy.

84' GOAL! Germany 2-2 Hungary — Goretzka scores! Germany have dug themselves out of a hole here. Musiala the substitute makes the difference — he picks out Goretzka, who exchanges passes with Kroos, and drills it home. Germany heading through, again.

Musiala and Volland on

Joachim Löw's final roll of the dice is to throw on the teenager Jamal Musiala and striker Kevin Volland. 

Kroos so close

Germany need a goal. From anywhere. Toni Kroos drives into the box and drills a low shot across the face of the Hungary goal. Close, but not close enough, and time is running out.

68' GOAL! Germany 1-2 Hungary — Schäfer scores for Hungary! This is truly amazing. Less than two minutes after drawing level, Germany are behind again! It's another goalkeeping error as Neuer comes out to claim the ball but Schäfer gets there ahead of him and nods into the empty net. This is nuts.

66' GOAL! Germany 1-1 Hungary — Havertz scores! Relief for Germany as Havertz heads in from a meter out. Gulacsi completely misjudges a cross into the box, Hummels heads it towards goal and Havertz nods it in from under the bar. Germany are alive!

Ronaldo goal sending Germany out again

Cristiano Ronaldo has done it again from the spot against France. It's 2-2 there now and Germany are back at the bottom of the group and heading OUT.

Goretzka to the rescue?

Leon Goretzka, surprisingly left out of the starting line-up, is coming on for Germany. He replaces Ilkay Gündogan, who is on a yellow card. Back in Budapest, France have scored again and it's Karim Benzema again, whose goal has been allowed to stand after initially being ruled out. That helps Germany, who would sneak through as one of the best third placed teams. But Germany really can't rely on that.

France draw level in Budapest

In the other game in the group, France have drawn level just before the break with a Karim Benzema penalty canceling out Cristiano Ronaldo's a little earlier. As things stand, France will top the group, Portugal will finish second, and Hungary will go through in third place. Germany would be out.

Karim Benzema's goal leveled the game against Portugal in Budapest
Karim Benzema's goal has leveled the game against Portugal in BudapestImage: FRANCK FIFE/REUTERS


Germany 0-1 Hungary — Joachim Löw has one hell of a team talk ahead of him here. Germany need to step their game up significantly if they're to avoid going out of a major tournament in the first round for second straight time. That's never happened to Germany.

Germany sluggish

Germany just cannot break Hungary down, who have put in another fine defensive display in this tournament. But Germany look short on ideas, Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry have been invisible, and Germany have been sluggish in possession.

Hungary weathering the storm

Germany are seeing way more of the ball and tossing it into the box but Hungary are soaking up the pressure. They're also soaking up the rain, which is absolutely lashing down in Munich right now. Kind of suits the mood for Germany right now. 

GOAL! Germany 0-1 Hungary — Szalai scores for Hungary! Well, well, well. What a story here as Adam Szalai of Mainz thumps a unstoppable header past Manuel Neuer after a pinpoint cross from Freiburg's Roland Sallai. It's a goal made in Germany, against Germany.

Here we go!

We're underway in a colorful Munich. The Hungarian national didn't pass without an intervention though... 

Fans arriving

Germany fans are showing up and many of them are donning the Pride colors, in defiance of UEFA's decision to stop the stadium being lit up in the same colors for the visit of Hungary.


Team news!

 Hello and welcome to DW's coverage of Germany's final group game of Euro 2020 and, potentially, of the tournament.


Despite an invigorating win over holders Portugalat the weekend, the fate of both these teams hangs in the balance, as does that of Portugal, who play France in Budapest at the same time.

A win will definitely see Germany progress, while a draw would likely to the same. But a loss to Hungary, who took a point off world champions France last time out, would leave Joachim Löw sweating on results elsewhere. We should know more on that by kickoff.

Löw demands even more

Germany impressed plenty of people with their win over Portugal but Joachim Löw sees room for improvement. "I wasn't entirely happy with the Portugal game," he said on Tuesday evening in a press conference. "There were definitely things we need to improve. Mistakes were made, but we dominated, which is a good place to start."

Goretzka set to replace injured Müller

Germany have yet to make a change to their starting XI in this tournament. But with the games now coming thick and fast, that looks likely to change on Wednesday night. Thomas Müller wore plenty of plasters over a knee injury at training and looks likely to miss out, with recently recovered Bayern Munich teammate Leon Goretzka likely to be his replacement.

The midfielder has been prominent in his support for LGBTQ rights in light of the Neuer incident but was focused on the game in his pre-match press conference.

"We have the toughest group by far, and that includes Hungary, too, of course," he said. "You have to break down their defensive wall. We're highly motivated and will find the right solutions. Our only goal is to win."

Rainbow row the main talking point

While there is plenty to play for on the pitch, the spotlight has been firmly turned on UEFA's decision to reject the Munich council's wish to project the rainbow flag on to the stadium ahead of the game.

Despite its constant public insistence that it backs tolerance and inclusion, European football's governing body rejected the application on the grounds that it was "political" given the Hungarian government's position on  LGBTQ rights. All the background on that one is here.

It follows a decision to investigate Manuel Neuer for wearing a rainbow armband in the Portugal game, which was quickly retracted by UEFA. 

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