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Euro 2024 – Germany 2-0 Hungary: Hosts into last 16 thanks to Jamal Musiala and Ilkay Gundogan goals

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Report from Euro 2024 as Germany qualify for last 16 with a game to spare after beating Hungary 2-0; Jamal Musiala and Ilkay Gundogan scored either side of half-time for hosts; Germany play Switzerland on Sunday; Hungary can still qualify when they play Scotland, also on Sunday

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Germany became the first nation to reach the last 16 at Euro 2024 as goals from Jamal Musiala and Ilkay Gundogan secured a 2-0 victory over Hungary in Group A.

After thrashing Scotland on the opening night, Germany were provided a stiffer test by Hungary, who they had only beaten once in their last six meetings on home soil.

Manuel Neuer denied Roland Sallai just seconds into the game after sloppy defending by his team-mates, but Germany quickly moved into the ascendency, with Kai Havertz and Robert Andrich going close before Musiala struck.

The midfielder has a dazzling array of skills but it was a scrappy opener, with Willi Orban losing his balance after challenging Gundogan, allowing the captain to set up Musiala for a close-range finish.

Sallai thought he had levelled when he converted the rebound from a free-kick but was denied by a tight offside call, before Barnabas Varga – who almost scored an own goal in the first half – headed Hungary’s best chance of the game over Neuer’s crossbar.

Gundogan punished Varga’s miss seven minutes later, sweeping Maximilian Mittelstadt’s low cross beyond Peter Gulacsi to ensure Germany reached the next round with a game to spare.

The 33-year-old’s absence from the Premier League – he joined Barcelona to become a key part of their midfield last summer – means it’s possible to forget all that he offers.

After so many years as a No 8 in Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Manchester City side, Julian Nagelsmann has repurposed Gundogan as a No 10, asking him to operate at the tip of an-all star midfield diamond that includes Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala.

Hungary's Willi Orban falls on the ball while defending near the goal during a Group A match between Germany and Hungary at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Image:Willi Orban falls on the ball after dispossessing Ilkay Gundogan in the Hungary area
Germany's Ilkay Gundogan (21) controls the ball next to Hungary's goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi, left, and Willi Orban (6) during a Group A match between Germany and Hungary at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Image:Gundogan reacts sharply, collecting the ball and rounding Peter Gulacsi
Germany's Jamal Musiala, centre, scores his side's opening goal during a Group A match between Germany and Hungary at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Image:Gundogan sets up Musiala, who finishes high into the net

The role requires Gundogan to both score goals and create them. He did both in Stuttgart, reacting sharply to Willi Orban’s error in creating Musiala’s opener, before expertly finding space in the Hungary box to seal the win with a composed finish.

In a squad containing Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich and Toni Kroos, it’s a testament to Gundogan’s skill – as well as his character – that he is Nagelsmann’s captain.

Germany have now won their opening two matches at the Euros for a fifth time. On three of the previous four occasions, they went on to win the tournament. If they’re to do so again, Gundogan will be crucial.

Neuer: We can feel the fans’ euphoria

Germany captain Ilkay Gundogan said: “We are getting better, but as we improve we have to overcome some problems.

“That is what this game showed today, especially in the first half, but that’s the tournament – you have survive such situations. We survived and then hit back.”

Manuel Neuer added: “It was very important. We wanted to affirm our performance against Scotland. We knew from before it wouldn’t be easy for us to play against Hungary.

“You can feel it when you see the euphoria of the people. The atmosphere is good. Germany are always in the favourites’ circle but we need to do our homework.”

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