EURO 2024: Bellingham’s intervention, Ronaldo’s star power leads to security concerns

Slovakia, which took the lead midway through the first half, seemed fearless and in cruise control, all before Bellingham raised his right boot high in the air.

Published : Jul 04, 2024 14:23 IST - 6 MINS READ

From zero to hero: Albania’s Klaus Gjasula (8) scored on both ends of the pitch after coming on as a substitute in his side’s 2-2 draw against Croatia. After taking the lead in the 11th minute, Albanian coach Sylvinho replaced its goalscorer Qazim Laci with Gjasula to see out the game with just over a quarter of the tie remaining.

However, Croatia turned the game around with two goals in two minutes, the second bouncing into the goal after an unfortunate deflection off Gjasula. With time running out, Gjasula found himself in the right place at the right time, calmly firing the ball past Dominik Livakovic to score his first-ever goal for Albania and save a point.

VAR plays spoilsport: VAR was at the centre of controversy yet again after Netherlands’ Xavi Simons (7) had his goal ruled out in the second half against France. English referee Anthony Taylor consulted with the Video Assistant Referee and fellow countryman Stuart Attwell before ruling out the goal after an unusually long check, in a tournament that had demonstrated quick resolution till then.

The officials subjectively concluded that Dutchman Denzel Dumfries (far right) was offside and impeding goalkeeper Mike Maignan’s ability to dive and try to stop the shot rifled in from 14 yards by Simons. The game eventually ended in a stalemate with both sides failing to find the back of the net. 

Say cheese: Cristiano Ronaldo’s star power was on show during Portugal’s 3-0 win against Turkiye after as many as six spectators made it onto the pitch in the hunt for a selfie with him. The first of the bunch was a young boy who was warmly received by the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who waited for the boy and posed with him for a picture.

However, as the interruptions became more frequent, the Portuguese captain was left visibly unimpressed, refusing to entertain and take a picture with the pitch invaders. The incident even led to coach Roberto Martinez raising concerns regarding the safety of the players in the post-match press conference.

Troubled times: Hungarian players were left in tears after teammate Barnabas Varga was stretchered off the field in his side’s match against Scotland, following a horror collision with opposition keeper Angus Gunn.

After getting struck in the face by Gunn’s shoulder, Varga lay motionless on the pitch as the players frantically covered him and signalled the medical staff to enter the pitch, prompting comparisons to Denmark’s Christian Eriksen’s collapse in the previous edition. Sheets were brought in and he was given medical attention on the pitch before being taken to the hospital, where he returned to a stable condition.

Hungary’s Kevin Csoboth went on to score in the 10th minute of added time to win the match, with the players, led by captain Dominik Szoboszlai, holding Varga’s jersey aloft to pay tribute to him.

Masked marauder: France’s Kylian Mbappe scored his first-ever European Championship goal, converting from the spot in his side’s final group stage match against Poland. The French captain donned a protective mask during the game after sustaining an injury to the nose in France’s only victory in the group stage against Austria in its first match.

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Polish talisman Robert Lewandowski went on to score an equaliser in the game, scoring from the spot after his initial penalty was saved but retaken after VAR checks adjudged that goalkeeper Mike Maignan had advanced off his line too early while making the save. France ended the group stage with one win and two draws, finishing one point behind group winner Austria.

Own goals galore: Dutchman Donyell Malen (bottom right) added his name to the long and growing list of own-goal scorers in the tournament after directing the ball past his own keeper Bart Verbruggen in the sixth minute of the group stage match against Austria. So far, there have been eight own goals in Euro 2024, the number steadily inching close to the record of 11, scored in the last edition.

Austria went on to beat the Netherlands 3-2, thanks to an 80th-minute winner from Marcel Sabitzer, which helped Ralf Rangnick’s high-tempo side finish first in a group containing heavyweights France and Netherlands. 

Tremendous disorder: The final group stage match of Euro 2024 between Turkey and Czechia broke the record for most cards dished out in a single match in Euros history with 18 (16 yellows and two reds).

After the match, which ended with Cenk Tosun scoring a stoppage-time winner, Turkiye’s celebration of making the knockouts was cut short by a brawl on the pitch, which forced referee Istvan Kovacs to flash a red card at Czechia’s Tomas Chory (19).

Turkish youngster Arda Guler and Czech captain Thomas Soucek, who were part of the fuss, were also cautioned by the referee after the match. Earlier, in the 20th minute of the tie, Czechia’s Antonin Barak was sent off after receiving two yellow cards in a space of nine minutes.

Wrath of the elements: The knockout clash between host Germany and Euro 2020 semifinalist Denmark was halted half an hour into the game after lightning struck the stadium. Referee Michael Oliver talked to the team captains and the players were sent back to the dressing rooms while they waited for the thunderstorm to pass.

After about 25 minutes, the fans who braved and stayed out in the rain were rewarded for their persistence as the match resumed. Germany took the lead in the tie after Kai Havertz found the back of the net from the penalty spot, a few minutes into the second half. Jamal Musiala doubled the lead with a cool finish past Kasper Schmeichel and secured his side a spot in the quarterfinal. 

Quick learners: Khvicha Kvaratskhelia got Georgia off to a blistering start, scoring 92 seconds after kick-off in its do-or-die group stage match against Euro 2016 winner Portugal. Georges Mikautadze doubled the lead for Georgia from the penalty spot in the second half, securing his nation a spot in the round of 16 in its debut appearance in the tournament.

Ranked 74th in the world by FIFA, a disciplined Georgian team caused one of the biggest upsets in Euros history after beating sixth-ranked Portugal, a victory that will live long in the memory of the Georgian supporters who look ahead to a bright future. 

Jude shock: England’s Jude Bellingham dragged his team from the brink of elimination after scoring the equaliser against Slovakia with a stunning bicycle kick in the final few seconds of the knockout clash. Slovakia, which took the lead midway through the first half, seemed fearless and in cruise control, all before Bellingham raised his right boot high in the air.

It was England’s first shot on target of the game, which forced the match to go into extra time for the first time in this tournament. England captain Harry Kane headed in the winner from close range in the first minute of extra time to send the Three Lions into the final eight of a major tournament for the fourth consecutive time, where they will face Switzerland.

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