Group F matchday 3 review

Group F: Matchday 3

By Sam Feierabend

Group F came to a thrilling conclusion in matchday 3. At the start of play, all four teams could have qualified from the group. Two 2-2 draws set up some intriguing fixtures in the last-16. England fans watched keenly to find out their last-16 opponents, and, such was the closeness of the group that their prospective last 16 opponents changed eight times in the 90 minutes of gameplay.

Portugal vs France, Budapest

Substitutes:

46′: Danilo off, Palhinha on

72′: B.Silva off, Fernandes on

72′: Moutinho off, Neves on

79′: Semedo off, Dalot on

88′: Sanches off, Oliverira on

Substitutes:

46′: Hernandez off, Digne on

52′: Digne off, Rabiot on

66′: Tolisso off, Coman on

87′: Griezmann off, Sissoko on

Stars:

★★ Ronaldo

★ Kante, Benzema, Patricio.

The last two major tournament winners faced off in Budapest, looking to win the group and secure a favourable draw for the last-16.

France started the game brightly, with the more advanced Paul Pogba lofting a ball over to Kylian Mbappe who drew a good save from Rui Patricio. However, it was Portugal who took the lead when a free kick was met by Danilo only for Hugo Lloris to clatter the midfielder with his fists first and a penalty awarded to the European champions, duly dispatched by Cristiano Ronaldo.

France hit back with a controversial penalty of their own to level arrears. Once again Pogba fed Mbappe, with the latter seemingly felled by Nelson Semedo who appeared to raise an arm to hold back the PSG stalwart. Despite a VAR check, the penalty was awarded – and scored by Karim Benzema, his first for Les Bleus in six long years.

The second half started fast, with Benzema slotting the ball home from a delicious through ball which was initially flagged offside but overturned on second inspection. At this point, Portugal were in danger of crashing out of the group stage so needed to push to get a result. Their pressure eventually paid off, with Ronaldo bursting down the left and crossing in, only for the ball to be blocked by the arm of Jules Kounde. Once again, Ronaldo made no mistake from the spot to level the scores, and potentially give Portugal the result they needed to qualify. France nearly snatched a late winner though when Pogba thundered a ball from 25 yards, only for it to be stopped by the excellent Patricio.

France finished top of the group and will play Switzerland in the last 16, while Portugal qualify once again as one of the best third-placed finishers, and will square off with Belgium in what could be the game of the round.

Germany vs Hungary, Munich

Substitutes:

58′: Gundogan off, Goretzka on

67′: Havertz off, Werner on

67′: Gnabry off, Muller on

82′: Gosens off, Musiala on

82′: Ginter off, Volland on

Substitutes:

75′: Sallai off, Schon on

82′: Ad. Szalai off, Varga on

88′: Fiola off, Nikolic on

88′: Kleinheisler off, Lovrencsics on

Stars:

★★ Ad. Szalai

★ Sallai, At. Szalai, Nagy.

Hungary nearly shocked the world by beating Germany in Munich to qualify out of a group they were given no chance of even getting a result in, but the Germans held firm to drag themselves from the brink, and qualify second from the group.

Germany came out of the blocks swinging, with Joshua Kimmich forcing a good save from Peter Gulasci, yet it was Hungary who stunned the hosts early on. A well-worked counter attack found Sallai on the right who swung a tantalising ball in, just begging to be attacked, which was duly accepted by captain Adam Szalai who headed in to send the travelling support into raptures.

Germany had to respond to save their tournament, and their two best chances fell to two of their centre backs: Mats Hummels crashing a header off the bar, while Mathias Ginter poked an easy chance into Gulasci’s arms to ensure Hungary led at half time.

The equaliser eventually came from a free kick, missed by Gulasci in the air allowing Kai Havertz to nod into the empty net. Yet this did not dampen Hungarian spirits, who scored immediately from kick-off from Schafer nodding past Neuer and placing Germany back to square one.

With time running out, Germany snatched a draw when defeat was looming through substitute Leon Goretzka, breaking Hungarian hearts but saving Germany from their second group stage exit in a row. Germany now go on to face England at Wembley, while Hungary go back to Budapest with their heads held high, knowing they performed admirably for all three games.