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England and Spain reach the Eurocup quarterfinals with comeback wins

The Iberian and British teams advanced to the quarterfinals after beating Georgia 4-1 and Slovakia 2-1, respectively.

Spain's players(Javier Soriano / AFP)

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Trailing but meeting the odds: Spain and England overcame their respective duels against Georgia (4-1) and Slovakia(2-1 after extra time) to seal their ticket to the quarterfinals of the Eurocup-2024.

Their opponents will be the qualified teams on Saturday, hosts Germany for Spain on Friday, July 5 in Stuttgart, and Switzerland for England a day later in Düsseldorf.

Georgians and Slovaks therefore came up against two of the favorites for the title, on a day finally without surprises, after the tournament lost defending champions Italy on Saturday.

Heroic Bellingham

Although both England and Spain started their matches trailing, it was the former who were really on the brink of the abyss, trailing until the final stoppage time, where a goal from Jude Bellingham (90+5) managed with a scissor-kick to force extra time, balancing a scoreline in which Slovakia had taken the lead in the 25th through Ivan Schranz.

With a header, Harry Kane decided the tie early in extra time (91st), signing for a 2-1 lead that would not budge and allowed the English to breathe a sigh of relief.

"I wasn't prepared to have to go home and the players have clearly felt the same as me," Gareth Southgate said after the game in Gelsenkirchen.

Bellingham was especially the hero of the match and the man who won all the plaudits for his providential intervention, without which the "Three Lions" would already be packing their bags for London.

"You're 30 seconds away from going home, hearing all the nonsense and having the feeling that you've dropped a whole country and in 30 seconds, or one shot, everything can change," the Real Madrid star told a post-match press conference.

His acrobatic half-turn is "probably" the most important goal of his career, said the youngster who turned 21 on Saturday.

Georgia awakens from slumber

Georgia, a debutant in a major competition, was one of the sensations of the group stage with its unexpected qualification to the round of 16, sealed with a 2-0 win over Portugal, but the other Iberian team, Spain, closed the door with a 4-1 win in Cologne.

The match, however, started with a scare for the Spaniards and a Georgian lead that suggested the possibility of another bombshell for the small Caucasian team.

Georgia's goal came in the 18th minute, when Otar Kakabadze's long run ended with a ball into the middle of the box, where Robin Le Normand put the ball into his own net as he tried to clear it. It was the first goal conceded by Spain in this Eurocup.

Alarm bells went off, as had happened against England, but unlike that match the script was much less dramatic for Luis De la Fuente's men, who had already managed to equalize before the break, with a shot from the edge of the area by Rodri Hernandez(39).

In the second half, Spain, arguably the most lauded team of the group stage, imposed their greater individual and collective quality to leave the pulse of the game in the balance, with successive goals from Fabian Ruiz(83rd minute), Nico Williams(75th) and Dani Olmo(83rd).

"We have shown that we are a great team. If we continue at this level we can do great things. Germany is a tough nut to crack, but we have a wonderful, well-structured team," said Nico Williams.

With the mission accomplished, Spain now begins to think about a more complicated test, that of playing the quarterfinals against the local Germany, qualified on Saturday after beating Denmark 2-0 and another of the teams that have transmitted the best sensations so far.