Home » Entries posted by CIARAN FAHEY AP Sports Writer

Italy beats Belgium 2-1, advances to Euro 2020 semifinals

Italy beats Belgium 2-1, advances to Euro 2020 semifinals

Nicolò Barella and Lorenzo Insigne scored a goal each to give Italy a 2-1 win over Belgium and a spot in the European Championship semifinalsBy CIARÁN FAHEY AP Sports WriterJuly 2, 2021, 9:40 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleMUNICH — Nicolò Barella and Lorenzo Insigne scored a goal each Friday to give Italy a 2-1 win over Belgium and a spot in the European Championship semifinals.Romelu Lukaku kept his team in the game with a penalty right before halftime but the Belgians missed further chances to equalize in the second half as Italy’s defenders celebrated their stops like the offense celebrated the goals.Barella put Italy in the lead in the 31st minute when Jan Vertonghen failed to properly clear the ball. Marco Verratti passed to Barella, who eluded two Belgium defenders before sending it in off the far post.Insigne got the second in the 44th when he put a curling shot inside the far top corner after skipping past one defender and facing two more.Belgium got its penalty when Giovanni Di Lorenzo pushed Jeremy Doku shortly before halftime. Lukaku then made it 2-1 by sending his shot down the middle.It was only the second goal Italy has conceded at the tournament.Italy will next play Spain in the semifinals on Tuesday at Wembley Stadium in London. The Spanish defeated Switzerland on penalties in St. Petersburg.In the second half, Leonardo Spinazzola just did enough to deny Lukaku on the line with what seemed to be a certain equalizer when Kevin De Bruyne played the ball to the far post. Spinazzola, who was kissed by his grateful teammates, was later carried off on a stretcher with a leg injury.De Bruyne started the match after recovering from a left ankle injury, but Eden Hazard remained out with a leg injury.Belgium played as it had in the 1-0 win over Portugal with defense a priority. A back three quickly became a back five whenever Italy had the ball as Thorgan Hazard and Thomas Meunier retreated to help out.Italy had an early goal ruled out for offside by video review early in the match.Belgium coach Roberto Martínez brought on Dries Mertens and Nacer Chadli with about 20 minutes remaining. Chadli nearly set up an equalizer within seconds of coming on, but his cross was too high for Lukaku and it fell behind Thorgan Hazard.Chadli then had to go off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury after being on the field for only about five minutes. Spinazzola followed in the 79th after he pulled up sharply while chasing the ball.———More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports———Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

Hungary fans bemused by rainbow-flag reception in Munich

Hungary fans bemused by rainbow-flag reception in Munich

Rainbow flags outnumbered German flags when soccer fans arrived for a European Championship game in MunichBy CIARÁN FAHEY AP Sports WriterJune 23, 2021, 5:43 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleMUNICH — Rainbow flags outnumbered German flags when soccer fans arrived for a European Championship game in Munich on Wednesday.Supporters were met at the exit of the Fröttmaning subway station by a host of volunteers from groups including Amnesty International, CSD Germany and S’AG Munich distributing rainbow flags to people attending Germany’s final Euro 2020 group game against Hungary.Other demonstrators simply turned up to protest UEFA’s decision to decline the Munich city council’s application to illuminate the stadium in rainbow colors as a protest against what it called Hungary’s “homophobic and transphobic legislation.”UEFA said it had to reject the request because of its political context as a criticism of Hungary. The city referred to a law passed by Hungarian lawmakers last week that made it harder for youths under-18 to access LGBT information by making it illegal to share.“We’re here to protest the oppressive laws of Hungary against members of the LGBTQ community,” demonstrator Julian Krusenberg told The Associated Press.Hungary fans appeared bemused by the reception and few, if any, stopped to accept flags.Drag queen Zoey Rachel Pride said she was outside the stadium to demonstrate for human rights.“Human rights are for all people, regardless of whether you are homosexual, bisexual, transsexual or anything else,” Pride told the AP. “There are gays, lesbians, bi, trans, inter, queer and so on and so forth. And that’s why we always have to stand up for our rights. That’s why I’m here today to stand up for our rights, for the people in Hungary who can’t lead a life as well as we can.”Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter had described UEFA’s decision not to allow the rainbow-illuminated stadium as “shameful” and said the city “won’t let ourselves be discouraged from sending a clear signal to Hungary and the world.”Rainbow flags were flying from Munich’s spectacular neo-gothic city hall, and there were plans to have a wind turbine near the stadium and the city’s Olympic Tower illuminated in rainbow colors, too.Many Hungarians were unimpressed.“Politics doesn’t have anything to do with sport,” Hungary fan Csaba Töräk said. “Don’t mix the two.”One young Hungary supporter, attending the game with his father, said he could see both sides of the argument.———More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports———Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

UEFA declines Munich application for rainbow-colored stadium

UEFA declines Munich application for rainbow-colored stadium

UEFA has declined the Munich city council’s application to have its stadium illuminated in rainbow colors for Germany’s final European Championship group game against Hungary on WednesdayBy CIARÁN FAHEY AP Sports WriterJune 22, 2021, 10:09 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleMUNICH — UEFA has declined the Munich city council’s application to have its stadium illuminated in rainbow colors for Germany’s final European Championship group game against Hungary on Wednesday.The governing body said in a statement Tuesday that it understands the intention behind the proposal but “must decline this request” because of its political context — “a message aiming at a decision taken by the Hungarian national parliament.”Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter’s application on behalf of the council made clear it wanted to protest a law passed by Hungarian lawmakers last week that prohibits sharing with minors any content portraying homosexuality or sex reassignment. The law was denounced as anti-LGBT discrimination by human rights groups.Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó blasted the German plan on Monday.“In Hungary we have passed a law to protect Hungarian children, and now in Western Europe they are griping about it,” Szijjártó said in Luxembourg. “They want to express this by including politics in a sporting event, which has nothing to do with the passing of national laws.”UEFA said it believes “that discrimination can only be fought in close collaboration with others” and it proposed that Munich illuminates the stadium with the rainbow colors on June 28 for Christopher Street Day or between July 3-9 for the Christopher Street Day week in the city.The body said these dates “align better with existing events.”German soccer federation spokesman Jens Grittner had already suggested Monday that it might also be an option to display the colors in the days after Hungary’s visit. Munich will host a quarterfinal match at Euro 2020 on July 2.But the delayed action undermines the Munich’s city’s planned protest against what it calls “the homophobic and transphobic legislation of the Hungarian government.”Hungary’s National Assembly approved the bill against sharing LGBT content with minors in a 157-1 vote last week, when one independent lawmaker voted against it and all other opposition parties boycotted the voting session in protest.“This legislation represents a new mark in the invisibility and disenfranchisement of lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) and adds to the systematic restriction of the rule of law and fundamental freedoms that have been practiced for years in Hungary,” the Munich council said in its application, which had cross-party support.UEFA said it understood the council’s intention to send a message to promote diversity and inclusion but stressed that it was “a politically and religiously neutral organization.”On Sunday, UEFA gave the go-ahead for Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to continue wearing a captain’s armband with the rainbow colors at the tournament.“What does the rainbow stand for?” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert asked on Monday. “It stands for how we want to live: With respect for each other, without the discrimination that has long excluded minorities. And surely the vast majority of people can relate to that.”———More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports———Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

Munich wants rainbow-colored stadium for game with Hungary

Munich wants rainbow-colored stadium for game with Hungary

Hungary may play its final group game at the European Championship in a stadium lit up in rainbow colorsBy CIARÁN FAHEY AP Sports WriterJune 20, 2021, 7:53 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleMUNICH — Hungary may play its final group game at the European Championship in a stadium lit up in rainbow colors.Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter said Sunday he was going to write to UEFA to ask for permission for Germany’s stadium to be lit up with the colors as a sign against homophobia and intolerance when the team plays Hungary on Wednesday.“This is an important sign of tolerance and equality,” Reiter told news agency dpa.Munich’s city council had already called for the stadium to be lit in rainbow colors for the final Euro 2020 group game to protest a law passed by Hungarian lawmakers on Tuesday that prohibits sharing with minors any content portraying homosexuality or sex reassignment. The law has been denounced as anti-LGBT discrimination by human rights groups.“It is important for the state capital Munich to set a visible sign of solidarity with the LGBTI community in Hungary, which is suffering from the current stricter homophobic and transphobic legislation of the Hungarian government,” the Munich council said in its application.UEFA, as organizers of the event, will have the final say.The Munich city council accused Hungary “of following the example of Russia’s homophobic and transphobic legislation.””This legislation represents a new mark in the invisibility and disenfranchisement of lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) and adds to the systematic restriction of the rule of law and fundamental freedoms that have been practiced for years in Hungary,” the council said.Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has already worn a captain’s armband in rainbow colors for his team’s opening group games against France and Portugal, prompting UEFA to investigate. He also wore it in the 7-1 warm-up win over Latvia before the tournament.“UEFA looked into the armband worn by the player in question and, considering that it was promoting a good cause, i.e. diversity, the team will not face disciplinary proceedings,” the governing body of European soccer said in a statement.The local council said Munich “is committed to diversity, tolerance and equality in sport and in society as a whole.”But not everyone agrees.Uwe Junge, a politician with the far right AfD party, was chastised by party leader Alice Weidel for “going too far” with a since-deleted post on Twitter in which he used a homophobic slur to describe Neuer’s rainbow armband.The Munich stadium has been lit in rainbow colors on several occasions since the first time on the night of July 9, 2016, to celebrate Christopher Street Day.———More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports———Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

Germany clicks at Euro 2020 with 4-2 win over Portugal

Germany clicks at Euro 2020 with 4-2 win over Portugal

Germany got half of its goals from Portugal in a 4-2 victory at the European ChampionshipBy CIARÁN FAHEY AP Sports WriterJune 19, 2021, 9:22 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleMUNICH — Germany finally clicked into gear at the European Championship, with a little help from defending champion Portugal.The Portuguese became the first team to score two own-goals in one game at the continental tournament, giving the Germans a 4-2 victory on Saturday and ending fears of another group-stage exit.“Altogether it was a class performance. Great attitude, great morale. We deserved to win by this amount,” said Germany coach Joachim Löw, whose team lost its opening game to France. “I expected that we would do the things that we didn’t do so well against France better.”Cristiano Ronaldo put Portugal in the lead in the 15th minute against the run of play. It was his first goal against Germany and his third at Euro 2020. It also extended his all-time tournament record to 12 goals.But defenders Rúben Dias and Raphaël Guerreiro gave Germany the lead before halftime by scoring into their own net.Kai Havertz and Robin Gosens then got two more for Germany early in the second half — becoming the first players within the squad to score at a European Championship.“It’s magic,” said Gosens, who was playing in his ninth game for Germany.Diogo Jota got one back for Portugal in the 67th after Ronaldo acrobatically saved a free kick from going out.The German supporters sang “Oh wie ist das schön” (Oh how lovely this is) as they watched their team dominate the game from start to finish — something they hadn’t seen in years of underachievement.“When you have such good attacking scenes, the kettle boils,” said Thomas Müller, who has yet to score in 13 games at the tournament. “Now we have the three points that we absolutely needed. We shouldn’t get carried away. You can feel a little bit of euphoria, but we also have to remain objective.”The 2014 World Cup champions had been looking for a good showing at Euro 2020 to make up for their first-round exit at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.Both Portugal and Germany now have three points in Group F, one behind current World Cup champion France, which was surprisingly held to a 1-1 draw by Hungary in Budapest.Hungary has one point and will next play Germany on Wednesday in Munich. France will play Portugal in Budapest.“It was important for us that we didn’t throw everything overboard after the lost game against France, but stuck to our plan,” Havertz said. “We trust the coach, we trust the system.”Germany had the ball in the net early against Portugal when Gosens volleyed in a cross from Joshua Kimmich, but the goal was ruled out on video review for one of a number of possible infringements. Serge Gnabry was offside and Thomas Müller handled the ball.Ronaldo was the first to strike for real — after a German corner.Bernardo Silva sent a ball over Havertz for Jota, who took the ball on his chest and crossed for Ronaldo’s easy tap in.Clearly shaken, a more cautious Germany resumed where it left off, albeit a little more carefully than before.Havertz forced the equalizer in the 35th minute when he went for Gosens’ cross alongside Dias, who deflected it inside the far post.Germany then took the lead through another own-goal soon after. Havertz failed to connect with a cross from Müller but Kimmich sent the ball back in and it rebounded into the net off the unfortunate Guerreiro.Havertz finally got his goal early in the second half when Gosens set him up for an easy finish. Gosens then headed in the fourth at the back post from Kimmich’s cross.“It’s my responsibility. I wanted to play like that,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. ”We were on top in midfield, but the Germans managed to break free from difficult situations again and again. By and large, my players tried everything. But playing against Germany is just difficult.”———This story has been corrected to show that Gosens set up Havertz for a goal, not Müller.———More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports———Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

Greenpeace apologizes, local police slam Euro 2020 protestor

Greenpeace apologizes, local police slam Euro 2020 protestor

Greenpeace has apologized and Munich police are investigating after a protestor parachuted into the stadium and injured two people before Germany’s game against France at the European ChampionshipBy CIARÁN FAHEY AP Sports WriterJune 16, 2021, 9:34 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleMUNICH — Greenpeace has apologized and Munich police are investigating after a protestor parachuted into the stadium and injured two people before Germany’s game against France at the European Championship.The protestor used a powered paraglider with a motor attached to his back but lost control and hit overhead camera wires attached to the stadium roof, careening over spectators’ heads before he landed on the field ahead of Tuesday’s game. Debris fell on the field and main grandstand, narrowly missing France coach Didier Deschamps.Greenpeace spokesperson Benjamin Stephan apologized for the botched protest and the injuries caused.“That was never our intention,” Stephan said. “The paraglider was to fly over the stadium and drop a latex ball with a message of protest onto the field.”Munich police said Wednesday they were investigating various potential violations of the criminal code and aviation act.“The pilot injured two men during the landing approach. The injured were given medical care by the emergency services and taken to hospitals for further care,” Munich police said in a statement.The police said none of the injuries were serious and the pilot himself — a 38-year-old man with an address in the southwestern state of Baden Württemberg — was unharmed.“There is no understanding whatsoever for such irresponsible actions in which a considerable risk to human life is accepted,” the police said.The protestor’s parachute had the slogan “KICK OUT OIL!” and “Greenpeace” written on it.The parachutist managed to land on the field and Germany players Antonio Rüdiger and Robin Gosens were the first to approach him. He was then led away by security stewards.“Technical difficulties meant the pilot was forced to land in the stadium,” Stephan said. “We deeply regret that this put people in danger and apparently injured two persons.”UEFA called the action “reckless and dangerous” and said “law authorities will take the necessary action.”The German soccer federation also condemned the action.“It could probably have turned out much worse,” Germany team spokesman Jens Grittner said.UEFA and one of its top-tier tournament sponsors, Russian state energy firm Gazprom, have previously been targeted by Greenpeace protests.In 2013, a Champions League game in Basel was disrupted when Greenpeace activists abseiled from the roof of the stadium to unfurl a banner protesting Russian oil and Gazprom, which sponsored the visiting team, German club Schalke.Greenpeace later donated money to a charity supported by Basel, which was fined by UEFA for the security lapse.UEFA defended its environmental credentials in a statement on Tuesday after the incident.“UEFA and its partners are fully committed to a sustainable Euro 2020 tournament,” UEFA said, “and many initiatives have been implemented to offset carbon emissions.”———More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports———Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

Own-goal gives France 1-0 win over Germany at Euro 2020

Own-goal gives France 1-0 win over Germany at Euro 2020

Mats Hummels scored an own-goal and France beat Germany 1-0 at the European ChampionshipBy CIARÁN FAHEY AP Sports WriterJune 15, 2021, 10:08 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleMUNICH — Mats Hummels’ return to the national team went better for France than it did for Germany.The experienced defender was recalled by Germany coach Joachim Löw for the European Championship for his leadership qualities, but he ended up scoring an own-goal Tuesday to give France a 1-0 victory at the European Championship.Hummels was attempting to stop Lucas Hernández’s cross from reaching France forward Kylian Mbappé when he diverted the ball into his own net with his shin in the 20th minute.Both teams had chances to score. İlkay Gündoğan wasted Germany’s best opportunity of the first half when he couldn’t direct his shot on target.France twice put the ball in the net in the second half but both were called back for offside. Mbappé sent a curling shot inside the far post midway through the half and then set up Karim Benzema for another late in the match.Benzema was playing in his first competitive game for France since a World Cup quarterfinal loss to Germany in 2014.Mbappé also had a penalty appeal waved off in between the offside goals — Hummels had timed his tackle perfectly when the 22-year-old Frenchman would have been through on goal.Germany had never previously lost an opening game in the group stage at the European Championship.Löw started with the same lineup from the 7-1 rout of Latvia in Germany’s final warm-up game, but his team had no answer to Paul Pogba, who disrupted the team’s buildup play.Pogba also provided incisive passes for France’s fearsome forward trio of Mbappé, Benzema and Antoine Griezmann.While Germany pushed hard in the second half, France always looked the likelier to score.Löw, who is stepping down after the tournament, sent on forwards Leroy Sané and Timo Werner late in the match, and then Kevin Volland as a last resort, but none could make a difference.Germany’s next coach, Hansi Flick, was among some 14,000 spectators in attendance.Before the match started, a Greenpeace protestor parachuted into the stadium.———More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports———Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP