Paris (AFP) – Wales can secure a place in the last 16 of Euro 2020 when they face Italy in Rome later, after Germany breathed life into their campaign with a stunning 4-2 win over holders Portugal on Saturday in Munich.
Saturday also saw world champions France held by Hungary in Budapest, while Spain played out a second draw in as many games, this time against Poland.
Now it is on to the final round of group games and Wales — semi-finalists at Euro 2016 — stand on the brink of a return to the knockout phase.
However, they must face an Italy side who are at home in Rome and have made arguably the biggest impression of any team so far at the tournament.
Coming into the last day in Group A, Italy are already through with six points with Wales on four. Switzerland have one point before their game in Baku against Turkey, who have lost both outings so far.
Wales therefore need just a point to go through to a last-16 tie in Amsterdam, although a win at the Stadio Olimpico would see them leapfrog Italy into first place.
If they lose, the Swiss could yet finish above them by beating Turkey.
“We don’t want to limp across the line. We want to qualify in style and get where we deserve,” Wales coach Robert Page said.
Roberto Mancini’s Italy have won both matches so far by a 3-0 margin and are unbeaten in 29 games.
Paris Saint-Germain star Marco Verratti is set to return for the Azzurri after a knee injury with Mancini expected to make changes to his team.
“We would have done it anyway if it was a decisive game because it’s the third game in ten days, playing at 6pm in 32 degrees Celsius, we need fresh players,” Mancini said.
Meanwhile Switzerland need three points against Turkey by the Caspian Sea to have a chance of claiming a place in the next round.
“The game has a great importance. It’s a knock-out game basically,” coach Vladimir Petkovic said.
– Ronaldo nets but Portugal beaten –
On Saturday Germany claimed a thrilling victory in Munich despite Cristiano Ronaldo moving closer to the all-time international goals record.
Joachim Loew’s side knew defeat against Portugal at the Allianz Arena would leave them on the brink of being eliminated already from Group F, following their failure to make it beyond the group phase at the 2018 World Cup.
Ronaldo put Portugal ahead, the 36-year-old scoring a record-extending 12th goal at the European Championship finals, and also his 107th international goal on his 177th appearance for his country.
That leaves him just two away from the all-time international record, set by Ali Daei who scored 109 times for Iran.
However, Germany turned things around before half-time as Ruben Dias and Raphael Guerreiro both scored own goals.
Robin Gosens set up Kai Havertz to make it 3-1 just after half-time and then headed in the fourth himself.
Jota pulled another one back for Portugal but the defeat jeopardises their chances of making the last 16 just as Germany now have the knockout stage in sight.
“We are allowed to feel a little euphoria,” admitted Germany’s Thomas Mueller.
– France and Spain held –
France, the pre-tournament favourites, were thwarted by Hungary in the intense heat and before a hostile crowd of almost 56,000 in Budapest, having to come from behind to draw 1-1.
In the only Euro 2020 venue without restrictions on capacity due to Covid-19, Attila Fiola gave the hosts a shock lead in first-half stoppage time.
But Antoine Griezmann, the Golden Boot winner at Euro 2016, equalised on 66 minutes as an unconvincing France avoided a first competitive defeat since June 2019.
Les Bleus top the group with four points, one ahead of Germany and Portugal, with Hungary bottom on one point.
France therefore just need a draw when they face Portugal on Wednesday to go through, but the Portuguese are at real risk of being knocked out if they lose and Germany avoid defeat against Hungary.
Meanwhile Spain are still looking for a first win after being held to a 1-1 draw by Robert Lewandowski’s Poland in Seville.
Alvaro Morata gave the 2008 and 2012 European champions the lead at La Cartuja, but Lewandowski headed in Poland’s equaliser and Gerard Moreno hit the post from a penalty for Spain.
Luis Enrique’s side are third in Group E with just two points and need to beat Slovakia in their last game to be sure of going through.
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