Germany relieved to qualify top after Füllkrug denies Switzerland at the last

It was a humbler and wiser Germany that stepped from the turf here at full-time: euphoric after Niclas Füllkrug’s injury-time header, relieved at topping the group, but with perhaps a more realistic idea of where they are and what they are capable of. Like one of its trains, Germany’s Euro 2024 journey stuttered and stumbled here, even threatening an unscheduled diversion.

And so this goal was worth more than one Group A point. It averted a last-16 tie at Berlin’s Olympiastadion – probably against their nemesis Italy – followed by perhaps England, France and Spain. More importantly, it keeps the good vibes around what has thus far been a tournament of discovery and growth.

The yellow card to Jonathan Tah is a nuisance, putting him out of the next game, and there will be a certain anxiety at the ease with which Switzerland were able to cut them open on the break. There is still plenty of work to be done on this team, but after Füllkrug’s late goal the show is still just about on the road.

Murat Yakin’s Swiss side were sensational and slippery, salty when they had to be to, scoring in the first half through Dan Ndoye and seeing their lead all the way through to 90 minutes. They rode their luck a little, but made plenty of their own too, marshalled by the magnificent Granit Xhaka, named player of the match after a mesmerising duel with the great Toni Kroos in central midfield.And somehow you knew that Xhaka was never going to be a peripheral force in this game: not just as a leader and talisman but as the man with the keys to the Bayer Leverkusen mainframe, having won the Bundesliga title with Tah, Robert Andrich and Florian Wirtz this season. But for the most part his attentions were focused on Kroos, determining that if he could disrupt the conductor, Germany might just struggle to hold a tune.

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