gtag('config', 'UA-12595121-1'); Bellingham’s Last-Gasp Heroics and Kane’s Winner Propel England into Euro 2024 Quarter-Finals – The Zimbabwe Mail

Bellingham’s Last-Gasp Heroics and Kane’s Winner Propel England into Euro 2024 Quarter-Finals

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GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany, – Jude Bellingham saved England from an early exit in Euro 2024 with a stunning 95th-minute equalizer against Slovakia, before Harry Kane’s early extra-time goal secured a 2-1 victory, sending the pre-tournament favorites into the quarter-finals.

Despite a lackluster performance, Bellingham’s bicycle kick kept England’s hopes alive, setting the stage for Kane’s header, which now sets up a clash with Switzerland in Duesseldorf on Saturday.

Slovakia started the match far sharper, with Ivan Schranz scoring in the 25th minute after several warnings. England, known for their comebacks, thought they had equalized shortly after halftime, but Phil Foden’s goal was ruled offside.

Harry Kane missed a crucial header from a Foden free-kick, and Declan Rice hit the post as Slovakia defended resolutely. England seemed to lack belief, and their fans grew increasingly frustrated. However, Bellingham, celebrating his 21st birthday, equalized with England’s first shot on target in the dying moments.

“What an unbelievable goal, he’s kept our tournament alive,” Kane told ITV, calling Bellingham’s strike “one of the best in our country’s history.”

Bellingham reflected on the dramatic moment, saying, “You’re 30 seconds away from going home, feeling like you’ve let your nation down, and one kick of the ball and everything’s great. It’s a feeling I don’t want to be in but, when it comes, it’s a great feeling.”

England took the lead less than a minute into extra time when Kane headed past Slovakia’s goalkeeper Martin Dubravka from close range, completing the remarkable turnaround. Slovakia, who had faded as the game progressed, nearly equalized when Peter Pekarik missed a chance just before halftime in extra time.

England held on to secure a fortunate victory and progress to the next round, where they will need to improve significantly against a strong Swiss side that outplayed defending champions Italy in the last-16.

Despite the win, England manager Gareth Southgate faced criticism for waiting 66 minutes to make a substitution as his side struggled for ideas.

Slovakian Regrets

Slovakia deserved their lead when Schranz scored his third goal of Euro 2024, making him joint top scorer alongside Georgia’s Georges Mikautadze and Germany’s Jamal Musiala. Juraj Kucka nodded down a simple ball forward to David Strelec, who set up Schranz to score past Jordan Pickford.

It could have been worse for England as Marc Guehi, already on a yellow card that suspends him for the next round, clipped Schranz’s heels. However, Schranz stayed up to finish the move.

England should have equalized in the 50th minute when Kieran Trippier, played into space, passed to Foden, who was offside. Kane’s missed opportunity and Rice hitting the woodwork made it seem like England’s luck had run out.

But Bellingham’s brilliance forced extra time, and Kane’s powerful header from Ivan Toney’s flick-on secured the win.

“We played on par with England, we almost qualified,” said Slovakia coach Francesco Calzona. “We were very nearly there, unfortunately, things went the way they did.”

Slovakia’s goalscorer Schranz added, “It could have been beautiful, great, but we lost out at the last moment. But we certainly have nothing to be angry about. We’ll deal with it, but maybe we’ll regret it for the rest of our lives.”

Source: Reuters