Buy This Issue
The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 9 July 2016
28 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 9 JULY 2016 SPORT DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM ISSN 1321-1676 9 771321 167062 France knocks Germany out of Euros to set up final showdown with Portugal France’s Paul Pogba celebrates holding the French flag after the Euro 2016 semi-final soccer match with Germany. PHOTO: AP/THANASSIS STAVRAKIS. Host nation France is one step away from achieving its dream of winning Euro 2016 after overcoming current World Cup Champion Germany 2-nil at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on Friday morning. A brace of goals to Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Greizmann gave the host nation safe passage into Monday morning's (AEST) final against Portugal. After a bright opening by the French, Germany showed why it's the current world champion by controlling possession for most of the first half, despite missing several key players through injury including forward Gomez, midfielder Khedira and suspended central defender Hummels. As half-time approached, the assured Germans suffered an unexpect- ed setback when veteran midfielder Bastien Schweinsteiger conceded a soft penalty when he blocked a Patrice Evra header with his hand. Greizmann stepped up and made no mistake from the spot kick to beat German keeper Manuel Neuer and give France the all-important first goal. The Germans again controlled possession in the second half, putting the French defence under pressure. However, the home team stood firm and possessed the quality in attack to threaten on the counter. Nevertheless, it was another defen- sive blunder by the Germans that led to France's second when after 75 minutes, Germany's Joshua Kimmich gave possession away in his own box, allowing France's Pogba to send a cross from the edge of the box which German keeper Neuer could only palm away into the path of Greizmann, who instinctively poked home from close range. Greizmann's goals not only took France into the final but have almost certainly given him the Golden Boot of the tournament. He has six goals all up and has gotten better as the tournament has progressed, flourishing in the more central role French coach Deschamps assigned him behind Giroud in a 4-2-3-1 system. "We've already written history," Deschamps said after the match. "It was a long time since we'd beaten Germany but that didn't mean anything today. We're into the final. I'm delighted for the players, it was a very tough game against a team who made us suffer but we suffered together. When you see the passion and the fervour in the stands and around the ground ... This team has everything it takes to be loved. "We have three days before the final, it's very short so we have to savour this victory. It's an important step forward but the most important step is Sunday. We're going to do everything in our power to go into Sunday's game in the best possible condition. We have our chances and so do Portugal. As host nation, and because we've knocked out Germany, that doesn't give us extra powers. We believe in ourselves, so do Portugal." Gerrman coach Joachim Low commented after the game: "We were the better team. We put in a lot of effort, showed good body language, got forward and were good in our individual battles. We were unfortu- nate to concede a penalty a minute before half-time, that was bad luck. We had our chances but didn't score. Today we didn't have the luck; in 2010 and 2012 when we went out, the sides were better than us. Today we were better than the French but for the goals and result. "There were injured players, Khedira and Gomez, Hummels was suspended and Boateng went off injured – they're hard players to replace. The side did everything I told them, showed a lot of courage, so there's nothing to reproach them for. France have succeeded in getting to the final – if you win 2-nil you deserve it. I think France will win against Portugal, Portugal haven't convinced me that much so far. France have a very good side but we were the better team today." Ronaldo speaheads Portugal’s first outright tournament win in six attempts GEORGE STOGIANNOU Portugal has won through to its second ever Euro Final, after defeating a gallant Wales 2-nil in the first semi on Wednesday evening at the Stade de Lyon in France. Although Portugal was un- defeated in five games in this tournament leading into the semi, it had yet to win a game inside 90 minutes. Two goals in quick succession just after the break to Portuguese forwards Ronaldo and Nani gave Portugal its first outright win in the tournament. In a match many had predicted would produce few chances, Wales' 3-5-2 system was rarely tested in the first half by a Portuguese team reluctant to push forward in numbers. Instead, a number of crosses into the box were dealt with easily by the three Welsh central defenders. At the other end, Portuguese coach Santos said his team's game plan was to prevent the Welsh playing the ball quickly in behind the defence. He brought in the experienced defender Bruno Alves for the suspended Pepe, while Wales also were missing suspended midfielder Aaron Ramsey and defender Davies. Real Madrid teammates Gareth Bale and Christiano Ronaldo produced their teams' best chances of the opening half, with Bale having a couple of attempts, one from a cleverly worked corner and the other from distance which flew into Portuguese keeper Patricio's arms. Ronaldo produced an ominous header just before the break when he narrowly missed heading home a Silva cross. Soon after the break, when Portugal won a corner, Ronaldo escaped his marker and rose majestically to meet the cross powering his effort past Welsh keeper Hennessy into the back of the net. Welsh hopes nosedived when minutes later, Ronaldo collected a hurried Welsh clearance from another cross from the left. Scuffing his shot slightly, his low shot-come-cross found team mate Nani who guided the ball past Hennessy to dou- ble Portugal's lead and give it control of the match. Welsh coach Coleman changed to a 4-4-2 system, bringing on two fresh forwards and attacking midfielder Williams. Bales continued to work his socks off for Wales, but the Portuguese were able to see Wales off comfortably to book a place in Monday morning's (AEST) final against France. After the match, Portuguese coach Fernando Santos said he felt, "joy, immense joy for the players, my family, all the Portuguese people, everyone without any exception, for many Greek people who have been supporting me in this period". "I need to thank them for all the support they have given me in this period, especial- ly in the knockout stage. We have achieved the goal we set together two years ago here during my first match, in Saint-Denis. "At that time, we made a commitment that we would do our utmost to be back there, in Saint-Denis, this 10 July. Fortunately, things have gone well because of them. The team has become better, more solid, compact and united. And when that's the case anything is possible." Welsh coach Chris Coleman paid tribute to both teams in the semi. He commented after the match: "I have to congratulate Portugal. There's more than one way to win a game of football and they had a plan. We tried our best to create a chance and we couldn't do that. And that's credit to Portugal. Germany and France are fantastic teams but it's not always the best players that win, you have to be a team. Portugal have a good chance." "I'm proud of the (Welsh) players, the staff, the whole nation. The supporters have been brilliant every time. We've seen the scenes back home, it's been incredible. "It still hurts, the fact that we've lost the semi-final, the players are gutted but that will subside. When they look back they need to understand they have done their country proud. "Once you give what you’ve got, it's always enough, even if you don't get the result."
2 July 2016
16 July 2016