The excitement will definitely hit a new momentum when the round of 16 of the European Championships kicks off by Saturday. The group stage has produced some disappointments, as well as some surprises. A major feature from the round, that coincidentally happened during both the 1st and last games is a late goal. We saw much of them, and that reminded everyone that a football game is never over until the final whistle is blown. Ahead of the next round, just before the chapter is finally closed on it, we look at the top 5 moments it produced.
PAYET’S LATE STRIKE
With Romania giving France a hard time in the opening match with a draw, the hosts weren’t looking like the real deal in a match they were tipped and supposed to dominate, given the quality difference between both sides. The match was bound to end in the 1 – 1 draw with less than 5 minutes to go, until Dimitri Payet whipped in a curled shot from the edge of the box. The beauty of the strike was even made more glamorous given the time it came. The West Ham forward was reduced to tears after getting withdrawn, but paradoxically, he had brought smiles to a whole nation.
Germany ended the group stage without conceding a single goal, but that wouldn’t have been possible without Jerome Boateng’s goal-line clearance against Ukraine. The Bayern Munich was quick to respond with a reflex-enhanced interception to stop a ball that was slowly flying into the net. That made them kept hold to their lead, and eventually score 1 more goal to win the game.
CROATIAN FANS’ PROTEST
Crowd trouble has been an issue in France, and it took another dimension during the Czech Republic Croatia game. With the game drawing to an end and Croatia comfortably leading with 2 goals, their fans began to throw flares on the pitch, leaving the central referee with no other decision than to put the game on hold. After play resumed, a penalty and a very late goal saw Czech make a stunning comeback. That troubled Croatia’s chances of securing a straight qualification with Spain their next.
RAMOS PENALTY MISS
Spain were being held to a 1 – 1 draw by Croatia, and David Silva got tripped in the opponent’s box with few minutes to go. Sergi Ramos stepped up to take the resulting penalty kick. In a flash, Modric, who was sidelined due to an injury passed a message to the goalkeeper via the captain. Busquets approached Ramos to inform him of what just happened. The Madrid skipper took the kick and the Croatian keeper saved it. Modric had revealed the exact place and how Ramos would kick the ball. It happened just according to the script.
ICELAND’S LATE GOAL
With just 2 points from their first 2 games, Iceland needed a win to ensure qualification to the next round. But a draw with Austria into the final minutes of the game was threatening their fairytale dream. All of sudden, a 90th plus goal from Traustason sealed a vital win for them. The 300,000 nation erupted in joy, and no one better described how they felt than the Icelandic commentator who erupted in joy and screams in the middle of his commentary.