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Merino, Spain break Germany's hearts in extra time


Mikel Merino broke Germany's hearts, knocking the hosts out of UEFA Euro 2024 in extra time.

The Real Sociedad midfielder's goal in the 119th minute put Spain into the semifinals.

Dani Olmo's goal early in the second half was cancelled out by a late marker from Florian Wirtz to forced the extra 30 minutes.

After a very physical first half that saw four bookings and Pedri come off after only eight minutes following a hard challenge from Kroos, the second half began breathlessly.

In the 49th, Lamine Yamal sent a delightful ball into the area for Alvaro Morata. With his back to goal and Jonathan Tah hanging off of him, the Atletico man turned and fired over the bar. Morata immediately complained to referee Anthony Taylor about the contact from Tah, but Morata had to do better with such a glorious chance.

Minutes later, Olmo wouldn't make the same mistake with Yamal central to everything again. Coming down the left, the 16-year-old Barcelona winger drew in a pair of defenders while the rest of the Germany backline dropped back. That gave all the time and space the trailing Olmo needed with Yamal spotting the RB Leipzig forward, who dragged a low shot by Manuel Neuer. The Bayern Munich goalkeeper picked up the shot too late to have any real chance of stopping it.

The game was already free-flowing, but the goal took it into another gear.

Germany pressed for an equalizer while Spain attempted to get that second goal that might put things out of reach.

In the 56th, it was Yamal yet again, finding Nico Williams, who missed just wide. Moments later, a dangerous cross in from Olmo was well handled by Tah to snuff out the chance.

Then it was Germany's turn to come close.

In the 67th, a fine run from Kai Havertz ended in disappointment when subsitute Niclas Fullkrug couldn't get through on goal. Minutes later, Fullkrug found Havertz in the area, but his shot was blocked by Dani Carvajal before Fullkrug headed the ball wide.

Fullkrug kept menacing the Spanish backline. In the 77th, as his shirt was being pulled at by Nacho, he unleashed a shot off of the post that appeared to have Unai Simon beat.

Havertz had an incredible chance in the 83rd. Simon's goal kick was poor and it fell to the Arsenal forward. With Simon well off of his line, Havertz attempted a lob from 40 yards out, but it just cleared the crossbar, sparing Simon's blushes.

As a furious Germany kept pushing forward for an equalizer, they got their goal in the 89th. After Joshua Kimmich did well to ensure Spain couldn't clear by heading back in, the ball fell for Wirtz who hammered home inside the post to send the fans in Stuttgart into a frenzy.

The goal was the first one scored on Spain at the tournament with their only previous goal conceded an own goal against Georgia in the Round of 16.

Extra time opened with caution from both sides with the best chance of the first 15 minutes coming with what was almost the final kick of it.

Thomas Muller found Wirtz on the edge of the area, but his shot was just wide of the post with Simon left off of the hook.

The second half of extra time began with almost immediate controversy. In the 107th minute, Jamal Musiala's shot rocketed off of Marc Cucurella's hand in the area with Germany frantically looking for a penalty. None was coming, though, with the logic that the Chelsea defender was trying to pull his hand back inside his body.

Then in the 117th, Kimmich's cross was redirected by the head of Fullkrug, forcing Simon into a late save. 

Minutes later, it was a Merino header to beat Neuer from a beautiful Olmo cross to send the crowd into stunned silence and end Kroos's storied career.

In the closing seconds of stoppage, Carvajal received a second yellow and was sent off. He was already unavailable for the semifinals due to booking accumulation.