BUCHAREST: Christoph Baumgartner put Austria into the knockout stage at the European Championship for the first time by scoring the only goal in his team’s 1-0 victory over Ukraine in their final Group ‘C’ match on Monday to finish second and set up a last 16 clash with Italy.
The Netherlands, who were confirmed as group winners after beating both Ukraine and Austria, defeated bottom side North Macedonia 3-0 in Amsterdam in the other fixture to finish with nine points while Austria have six from two wins.
Baumgartner, who looked shaken after a clash of heads with Illia Zabarnyi minutes earlier, scored in the 21st minute from a corner when he beat the Ukrainian defender to prod home from a teasing David Alaba delivery.
The groggy Austrian midfielder was withdrawn 10 minutes later and his replacement Alessandro Schopf nearly set up a second when he found Marko Arnautovic on a counter-attack but the forward’s side-footed attempt was well off target.
Ukraine, who were sloppy in possession and rarely threatened in the final third, have three points and must wait to see if they advance as one of the four best third-placed teams.
Georginio Wijnaldum scored a second-half double as the Netherlands defeated North Macedonia to keep their perfect record on their way to the knockout stages.
North Macedonia, who were out of contention for the last 16 after back-to-back defeats, made a much-improved start as Ivan Trickovski’s early strike was ruled out for offside before Aleksandar Trajkovski smacked the post from 20 yards.
But Igor Angelovski’s side were soon caught out by a stunning Dutch counterattack when PSV Eindhoven forward Donyell Malen charged upfield to set up Memphis Depay, who slotted it home for his second goal of the tournament.
Wijnaldum doubled the Dutch advantage with a tap in from close range and added a third just before the hour mark to put the result beyond doubt in front of a partisan crowd at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
North Macedonia’s Goran Pandev received a guard of honour from his team mates when he was substituted off about 10 minutes later, in what he has said would be his final appearance for his country.
On Sunday, Wales celebrated reaching the last 16 of Euro 2020 despite losing 1-0 to Italy in Rome as Switzerland were left to wait before finding out if they will join them.
Gareth Bale and his Welsh team-mates lost 1-0 to an impressive Italy side at the Stadio Olimpico, with Matteo Pessina scoring the only goal.
Wales had Ethan Ampadu sent off and couldn’t get an equaliser but the result was enough for them to qualify in second place in Group ‘A’ on goal difference ahead of the Swiss, who defeated Turkey 3-1 in Baku.
“We wanted to get a result but main thing is we finished second,” Bale told British broadcaster ITV.
Wales finished with a goal difference advantage of two over Switzerland.
Semi-finalists at Euro 2016, Wales will play a last-16 tie in Amsterdam next Saturday against the runners-up in Group ‘B’, likely to be Russia, Denmark or Finland.
An impressive Italy are now unbeaten in 30 matches and have won 11 games in a row, all without conceding a goal.
Pessina redirected a free kick from Marco Verratti into the net late in the first half. Ampadu was sent off with a questionable straight red card for stepping on Federico Bernardeschi’s ankle 10 minutes into the second half.
Switzerland face an agonising wait to see if they will go through as one of the best third-placed teams but they stand a decent chance after Xherdan Shaqiri inspired their victory in Baku.
Haris Seferovic gave Switzerland the lead and Shaqiri added two superb finishes of his own either side of Irfan Can Kahveci’s consolation for Turkey. Winger Steven Zuber assisted all three Switzerland goals.
Boos echoed around the stadium at the end of the match as Turkey exited after losing all three of their games. The team’s goal difference was minus-7, the worst since the European Championship expanded to a 24-team competition in 2016.
GILMOUR TEST POSITIVE
Coronavirus further disrupted the pan-European tournament, costing Scotland the services of breakout star Billy Gilmour.
The Scottish Football Association announced on Monday that Chelsea midfielder Gilmour had tested positive for Covid-19, dealing a huge blow to Scotland’s hopes of making it beyond the group stages of a major tournament for the first time.
Gilmour picked up the man-of-the-match award in Friday’s 0-0 draw against England at Wembley in his first international start.
But the 20-year-old will miss Tuesday’s Group ‘D’ clash against Croatia at Hampden Park in Glasgow with Scotland needing to win to have any chance of progressing to the last 16.
After poor performances in a 1-0 defeat by England and 1-1 draw with the Czech Republic, Croatia must beat the Scots to keep alive hopes of advancing into the last 16.
The Czechs are top of the table on four points, ahead of England on goal difference, and a draw at Wembley in London in the group’s other game on Tuesday would see both teams advance regardless of the outcome of the game between Croatia and Scotland, who are both on one point.
A win for either team will guarantee a first-place finish.
(Tabulated under played, won, drawn, lost, goals scored, goals conceded, points): Group ‘A’ Italy 3 3 0 0 7 0 9 Wales 3 1 1 1 3 2 4 Switzerland 3 1 1 1 4 5 4 Turkey 3 0 0 3 1 8 0 Group ‘C’ Netherlands 3 3 0 0 8 2 9 Austria 3 2 0 1 4 3 6 Ukraine 3 1 0 2 4 5 3 North Macedonia 3 0 0 3 2 8 0
Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2021