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Merino’s last-minute goal sends Spain into Euro 2024 semi-finals

Spanish players celebrate after beating Germany to secure a place in the semi-finals of Euro 2024 | Photo: AP

Stuttgart: Spain won 2-1 in extra time on Friday, thanks to a decisive header from substitute Mikel Merino in the 119th minute.

“I knew there was very little time left and it was one of the last attacks we were going to have,” Merino said. “I didn’t believe it went in until a few seconds later. When you get 30 blows to your back, it sinks in very quickly.

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“I’m really happy for myself and the whole team. It all comes down to one moment (the goal), but there’s so much work behind it, all that training, the hope, the belief and the faith in ourselves.”

Mikel Merino pumped his fist and ran around the corner flag with a broad smile, before throwing his head back and letting out a cry of joy into the Stuttgart air.

Extra time was necessary after Florian Wirtz scored the equalizer in regular time.

Dani Olmo, who assisted Merino’s winning goal, had scored the opening goal earlier in the second half. Remarkably, all three goals were scored by substitutes.

The 28-year-old midfielder recreated his father’s iconic celebration after Miguel Merino scored in the same stadium more than three decades ago. Miguel’s goal came during a UEFA Cup tie between Osasuna and Stuttgart in November 1991.

“This stadium has to have something that brings us luck,” the younger Merino said. “My dad scored here. It’s a special stadium for us.”

Miguel Merino expressed his pride on Spanish radio Cadena SER, saying he felt “enormously” proud when his son scored and imitated his celebration dance.

“The goal was to make me look bad,” joked Miguel Merino, who never played for Spain. “If he had already passed me, I don’t have the exclusivity of the goal in Stuttgart. Now I just have to be quiet and give him a big kiss, because he deserves it.” AP

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