Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Euro 2024 data dive: Unprecedented feat for Gjasula, Shaqiri extends record run

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 19 Jun 2024

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Matchday two in the Euro 2024 group stage began on Wednesday, with hosts Germany headlining another dramatic day of action.

Julian Nagelsmann’s hosts became the first team to book their spot in the last 16, but they were pushed far closer by Hungary than they were by Scotland last Friday.

Scotland themselves stopped the rot with a 1-1 draw against Switzerland, though things could have been even better for the Tartan Army had Xherdan Shaqiri’s stunning goal not cancelled out Scott McTominay’s opener.

In Group B, meanwhile, Croatia and Albania served up another classic, with a 2-2 draw leaving the 2022 World Cup bronze medallists on the brink of an early exit.

But what were the standout stats to emerge from day six at the Euros?

Croatia 2-2 Albania: Gjasula makes history at either end

The early kick-off slot at this tournament has quickly become a fan favourite, and Wednesday’s edition will certainly have converted a few more viewers.

Croatia were set for a comeback win when Andrej Kramaric’s strike and Klaus Gjasula’s own goal flipped the match on its head, after Qazim Laci had put Albania ahead.

There were just 147 seconds between the two Croatia goals deep into the second half, with Kramaric celebrating his 33rd birthday with a composed finish. He is the third player to score at the Euros on his birthday, after Jean-Francois Domergue in 1984 and Wesley Sneijder in 2008.

However, Gjasula went from villain to hero five minutes into stoppage time, snatching a famous draw for Albania by slotting a cool finish past Dominik Livakovic. Having come on in the 72nd minute, he is the first substitute to ever score a goal and an own goal in the same Euros match.

He is only the second player to do so overall, after Anton Ondrus for Czechoslovakia against the Netherlands at the 1976 tournament.

Being officially timed at 94 minutes and 23 seconds, his goal was also the latest equaliser ever recorded at the European Championships (excluding extra time).

The result leaves Croatia likely needing to defeat Italy in their final game to have any chance of progressing, meaning Luka Modric and company are facing up to the prospect of a humiliating exit just 18 months after getting on the podium in Qatar.

Modric started his 15th Euros game on Wednesday, with Andres Iniesta (16) the only midfielder to ever record more.

At 38 years and 284 days, he became the oldest player on record (since 1980) to record 100 or more passes in a Euros match (108), while he already held the same record (since 1966) at the World Cup (105 versus Brazil in 2022, 37 years and 91 days).

Germany 2-0 Hungary: Musiala second only to Bene

Wednesday’s second game gave us our first qualifiers for the last 16, with Germany clinching a 2-0 victory over Hungary to make it two wins from two matches, courtesy of goals from Jamal Musiala and Ilkay Gundogan.

Musiala’s opener – a powerful finish off the crossbar following tireless work from Gundogan – made him the youngest player to score in a nation’s first two group games at a single European Championship. He is also the first player to net in Germany’s first two matches at the tournament since Mario Gomez in 2012.

At the age of 21 years and 114 days, he became the second-youngest player to score on his first two European Championship starts, after Hungary legend Ferenc Bene in 1964 (19 years, 186 days).

Having assisted Musiala’s goal, Gundogan later got one of his own to give Germany daylight. He both scored and assisted in the same match for his country for the first time since October 2019, when he scored two goals and registered one assist in a Euro 2020 qualifier versus Estonia.

Things were not straightforward for Germany, though, as Hungary fired off 11 shots, with Roland Sallai and Barnabas Varga guilty of spurning particularly good opportunities.

It is the most shots Germany have faced at a Euros match since the Netherlands recorded 14 against them in 2012, but Manuel Neuer stood firm as Hungary failed to score for the first time in their last 13 matches.

Despite Hungary giving a decent account of themselves, Toni Kroos produced another metronomic performance in the middle of the park, completing 124 passes.

That is the second-most on record by a midfielder in a Euros match, after Xavi completed 127 for Spain against the Republic of Ireland in 2012. Kroos’ 47 line-breaking passes were at least 30 more than any other player on the pitch.

Scotland 1-1 Switzerland: Shaqiri out on his own

The final game of the day saw Scotland bounce back from their 5-1 defeat to Germany, and boost their hopes of reaching the last 16, with a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Switzerland.

Steve Clarke’s side had the upper hand after 13 minutes, as McTominay’s shot was deflected past Yann Sommer by Fabian Schar. This is now the first edition of the Euros to feature more than one Scotland goal since the 1992 tournament (three).

They couldn’t hold on, though, as Shaqiri came up with a magical long-range finish into the top-left corner just 13 minutes later, giving Angus Gunn no chance.

Including Euro 2024, the former Bayern Munich and Liverpool man is the only European player to have scored at each of the last six major tournaments, dating back to a hat-trick against Honduras at the 2014 World Cup – his first tournament goals.

He now has 10 goals at major tournaments, while this is the seventh edition of the World Cup/Euros he has appeared at, the most of any Swiss player. His 10 tournament goals are evenly split between the World Cup and the Euros, making him one of just seven players with five or more goals at each.

He is in good company, with Michel Platini, Jurgen Klinsmann, Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku the others on that list.

Despite Shaqiri’s big moment, Scotland claimed a valuable point, meaning a victory over Hungary in their final group game will almost certainly seal qualification for the last 16, even if they are unlikely to finish higher than third.

They might wish they could face the Swiss again, having avoided defeat in six of their last seven competitive games against them (two wins, four draws), also remaining unbeaten in two meetings at major tournaments (one win, one draw).

They have now taken 44 per cent of their all-time group-stage points at the Euros (four of nine) against Switzerland.

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