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Germany climate typhoon to achieve Euro 2024 quarter-finals


BERLIN: Switzerland dumped reigning champions Italy out of Euro 2024 with a stunning 2-0 victory on Saturday to reach the quarter-finals for the second time in their history.
Murat Yakin’s supremely well-drilled side outplayed the flat two-time winners in the last 16 clash in Berlin and will face England or Slovakia in the next round.
Ruben Vargas teed up Remo Freuler for Switzerland’s 37th minute opener before curling home superbly himself right at the start of the second half to deservedly double their lead.
A new-look Italy, short on star power and without many of the key figures that led them to Euro 2020 glory, offered little in response to Switzerland’s energetic display.
Former Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka, arriving at the Euros after a stunning season with German champions Bayer Leverkusen, pulled the strings as the Swiss rarely looked like letting the lead slip away.
Italy coach Luciano Spalletti dropped Jorginho after his worrying group stage performances, bringing in Nicolo Fagioli in defensive midfield among a hefty six changes which failed to bring the Azzurri to life.
The 23-year-old started a major tournament match for the first time, having missed most of the season with Juventus after a seven-month ban for gambling on football matches.
Italy scraped through the first phase thanks to Mattia Zaccagni’s last-gasp strike in the 1-1 draw with Croatia and Spalletti said his team had no alternative but to improve in the knock-out rounds.
However it was Switzerland who grew in confidence and pulled off their best display yet, making a bright start at the Olympiastadion in a sweltering Berlin, where a far more impressive Italy won the 2006 World Cup.
Former goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, now Italy’s delegation head, has been regaling the squad with stories from that triumph but it did not inspire a convincing performance — apart from by his modern day counterpart, Gianluigi Donnarumma.
The Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper, key in Italy’s Euro 2020 conquest, made a fine save to thwart Breel Embolo midway through the first half as Switzerland created the first real chance by playing him through.
Donnarumma could not stop Freuler from firing Switzerland ahead after 37 minutes when the midfielder controlled Vargas’ low cross and drilled home at the near post.
Switzerland kept the ball for well over a minute in the build-up, stringing together 33 passes before Freuler, who plays for Serie A side Bologna, applied the finishing touch.
Donnarumma produced a fine save to tip Fabian Rieder’s free-kick on to the post before the break as the Swiss sought to equal their best ever Euros performance by reaching the last eight.
Hosts Germany needed a late leveller to avoid defeat against the Swiss in the group phase, while at the previous Euros they knocked out much fancied France in the last 16, so Italy cannot say they were not warned.
Spalletti hooked Stephan El Shaarawy at half-time for Zaccagni, but Italy gave the ball away from the kick-off and Switzerland doubled their lead just 27 seconds into the second period.
Augsburg midfielder Vargas, who started in place of the suspended Silvan Widmer but on the left of the attack, broke into the area and arced a superb curling shot over Donnarumma.
The closest Italy came to scoring in the first hour was when Swiss defender Fabian Schar misjudged a header and hit the frame of his own goal.
Substitute Mateo Retegui produced Italy’s first shot on target as the clock ticked down and the near-invisible Gianluca Scamacca hit the post from close range, but appeared to be offside.
The sides drew twice in World Cup 2022 qualification with the Azzurri failing to make the tournament but went one better in Germany, securing their first win against Italy since 1993, after 11 without victory.

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