Euro 2024: Germany cruise into knockouts with 2-0 win over Hungary

Ilkay Gundogan of Germany
Ilkay Gundogan of Germany celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match between Germany and Hungary at Stuttgart Arena on June 19, 2024 in Stuttgart, Germany.

Ilkay Gundogan set up a goal for Jamal Musiala and then scored himself to give Germany a comfortable 2-0 win over Hungary in Group A on Wednesday that made the host nation the first side to qualify for the knockout stage at Euro 2024.

With two wins out of two, the Germans are guaranteed to be at least among the four best third-placed teams. They will finish in the top two of the group if Scotland fail to beat Switzerland later on Wednesday.

That scenario would also prevent Hungary from finishing in the top two.

Musiala, playing in his hometown, gave the Germans the lead in the 22nd minute after some horrendous Hungarian defending led to the ball being poked into his path by Gundogan, and the 21-year-old needed no second invitation, hammering the ball in via a defender.

Roland Sallai had a goal ruled out in first-half stoppage time for Hungary and they wasted a number of other decent chances before Gundogan, in a man-of-the-match performance, scored in the 67th minute with a simple finish after a clinical build-up.

While few will have bet against the home side, it was in fact Germany's first competitive win over Hungary since the 1954 World Cup final. That was the first of Germany's four world titles, and fans are now dreaming of witnessing a fourth European Championship triumph too, and on home soil.

"You can feel when you see the euphoria of the people. The atmosphere is good and happy it is taking place here," goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said.

"Germany are always in the favourites' circle but we need to do our homework. We play the toughest group team next."

Febrile atmosphere

Watched by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the match began in a febrile atmosphere with thousands of fans having spent the day partying around Stuttgart.

Hungary manager Marco Rossi said on the eve of the match that his side could not afford to make any mistakes. But that's exactly what they did after 22 minutes.

Defender Willi Orban went to shoulder-barge Gundogan in his own area but came off the worse for it and fell over. The German captain was then able to pull the ball back to Musiala who smashed it in off defender Attila Fiola while some Hungary players had stopped and were appealing for a foul.

VAR confirmed the goal after a quick check.

Hungary responded well, with Neuer having to dive across to the top corner to parry away a Dominik Szoboszlai freekick shortly after.

They then thought they had equalised on the stroke of halftime when Sallai headed in from a rebound, but it was ruled out for offside. And they had another chance to level after halftime when Barnabas Varga headed over the bar.

But the Germans kept applying pressure with Musiala in particular continuing to be a menace for the Hungary defence. He was also involved in the build-up when Gundogan doubled their lead in the 67th by sweeping in a low cross from Maximilian Mittelstadt.

"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 to survive such situations. We survived and then hit back," Gundogan, 33, said.

Germany were able to keep possession and run the clock down as they assured their place in the next round ahead of a final group game against Switzerland on Sunday.

Hungary could still progress if they beat Scotland and other results go in their favour.

"We made some mistakes, but some mistakes in football happen, you can make mistakes. Teams like Germany and other world class teams play better than us, we know that. I’d say Germany is possibly the biggest favourite to win the Euro," Rossi said.

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