Draxler stars as Germany make light work of Slovakia
Julian Draxler scored one and made another as Germany eased into the quarterfinals of Euro 2016 with a 3-0 win over Slovakia.
Germany will now face the winner of Monday’s round-of-16 tie between Italy and Spain in Bordeaux next weekend.
Joachim Low’s side were on top throughout against the Slovaks on Lille’s much-improved relaid pitch and coasted through with goals from Jerome Boateng, Mario Gomez and Draxler. They could even afford Mesut Ozil to fail from the penalty spot.
Sami Khedira had the first chance of the game in the seventh minute. Toni Kroos whipped in a cross from the right flank and Khedira met it unmarked, only for Matus Kozacik to tip over the bar.
But the first goal would not be long in coming, as from the resulting corner Slovakia failed to fully clear their lines and Boateng volleyed home his first-ever international goal from 23 yards out. Kozacik desperately tried to get across but the shot nestled into the bottom corner.
It could have got worse for Slovakia in the 13th minute when Martin Skrtel needlessly pushed Mario Gomez in the back in the area, conceding a penalty. But Ozil’s spot kick, fired to the keeper’s left, was at a good height for Kozacik and he easily kept it out.
Gomez almost got in himself moments later but a defender blocked his shot.
Ozil wasted another great chance in the 24th minute, dragging well wide after Gomez had intelligently nodded on Draxler’s left-wing cross.
Germany were enjoying total domination, but unable to conjour a second. Draxler found space in the box in the 38th minute, but his shot deflected off the shin of a defender and into the welcoming arms of Kozacik. And Draxler then showed great control on the edge of the area but his shot on the spin was pulled well wide.
Then out of nowhere Slovakia fashioned a chance and really should have been level. Peter Pekarik found acres on space on the right flank and delivered a superb ball to the far post for Juraj Kucka, but goalkeeper Manuel Neuer produced a stunning save to tip over.
Replays showed that Kucka actually connected with his shoulder, and had he got his head to it the outcome may well have been different.
Milan Skriniar had a shot shortly afterwards, but it was badly sliced wide.
A goal did come in the 43rd minute, but it was with the true run of play as Germany doubled their advantage — and it was the magic feet of Draxler that created it.
He danced past his man on the left flank and got to the byline before cutting the ball back for Gomez, who had the simple task of sidefooting home.
Slovakia had the first chance of the second half, Marek Hamsik squaring a pass across the edge of the box to Kucka who could only power directly at Neuer. Then Hamsik saw his free kick deflected over the bar but the referee failed to see it clip the wall and awarded a goal kick, much to the player’s annoyance.
Any hope Slovakia had of forcing their way back into the game was effectively over in the 63rd minute when Draxler capped off a fine performance with the third goal.
A Kroos corner came in from the right and when Khedira went up for the header against Gyomber the loose ball fell to the unmarked Draxler on the edge of the the six-yard box, and he showed superb technique to volley into the roof of the net.
Jan Durica then shot just a couple of yards wide from a free kick, before Jan Gregus ballooned an effort over the bar from distance.
Kroos almost got on the scoresheet in added time but Kozacik produced a good stop to keep him out.
There was never likely to be any way back for Slovakia, and Germany now head to Bordeaux on Saturday.
Report by ESPN FC/soccernet.com
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