Jordan Henderson thinks England's hopes of beating Germany in the Euro 2020 last 16 could rest on keeping the ball away from Toni Kroos as much as possible.

Gareth Southgate's side came top of their group, taking seven points from games against Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic without conceding a goal, ensuring they will begin the knockout rounds at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday.

There, they will face Germany for the third time at a European Championship and the first in a knockout match since the Three Lions lost on penalties in the semi-finals of Euro 96.

Joachim Low's side scraped through a challenging Group F, Leon Goretzka's late equaliser against Hungary on matchday three ensuring they finished behind France and above Portugal thanks to their superior head-to-head record.

While England's route through the groups was somewhat sedate, with two 1-0 wins and a goalless draw with Scotland, Germany won a six-goal thriller with Portugal before battling to a 2-2 draw with Hungary after falling 1-0 to France.

Amid their inconsistencies, midfielder Kroos has been exemplary for the 2014 world champions. No player has completed more passes at these finals than the Real Madrid man (280), with 217 of those occurring in the opposition half – by far the best return at the tournament.

 

Given Germany have averaged 64.7 per cent of the possession in their games, a figure lower only than Spain (76.1), Henderson is eager to disrupt Kroos' rhythm as much as possible by retaining the ball and getting it into England's forwards.

"They're a top team. You go through every position on the pitch and they've got world-class players everywhere, so it's always going to be a tough game," he said on Thursday.

"With the ball, it's extremely important to keep it, especially against Germany, who are a fantastic team who've got very good technical players who can dominate games with the ball. We need to be defensively solid, like we have been, because they've got players like Kroos that can hurt you.

"He's a world-class player who can really hurt you with time and space, so we need to make sure that, without the ball, we're really solid.

"When we get it, we need to be calm and composed, but also positive with the play, getting the ball forward and trying to create as many chances as we can because we've got some fantastic forward players who can hurt any opposition. If we can get the ball into them and let them do their thing, I think we can be in for a real good night."

Penalties dominate much of the pre-match talk, not least because Germany beat England on home soil on spot-kicks 25 years ago, with current boss Gareth Southgate missing the crucial attempt.

Henderson was in the headlines during the warm-up for this tournament, the Liverpool man taking the ball from Dominic Calvert-Lewin before seeing his penalty saved during the 1-0 friendly win over Romania in Middlesbrough.

"It was blown out of proportion, to be honest, after the game," Henderson said. "Nothing to be said internally. I was obviously disappointed to miss but I was more disappointed for Dom as well because he could have had another goal for England."

Jordan Henderson called for England to ensure they have "no regrets" when the final whistle blows on their Euro 2020 last-16 clash with Germany.

The Three Lions' reward for winning their group is a knockout game against their old rivals at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday with a place in the quarter-finals at stake.

Unsurprisingly, the draw has prompted fans to reminisce about past meetings between the sides, including the 1966 World Cup final and the last 16 of the same tournament in 2010.

But while Henderson acknowledged the "special" nature of the fixture, he wants England to do more than just relish the occasion.

He said: "It's a special game for the players, for fans, for everyone, for the neutrals watching. It's a big game and that's what you want to be playing in these tournaments, so it’s very exciting. 

"Everybody will be looking forward to it and, for the players, we have to stay focused and make sure we give everything on the pitch and have no regrets.

"It's exciting, it's a huge game and one that we’ll be looking forward to. We knew whatever team we faced it was going to be a big challenge and Germany will certainly be that, so we need to prepare well, be ready for next week and give everything.

"They are still a very good side. Look at the players they've got, quality all over the pitch. It's going to be a very tough test.

"In games like this, it's not necessarily about form, it's about whoever is better on the night; whoeever puts the better performance in is going to have more chance of winning and we need to make sure we're 100 per cent ready, and I’m sure we will be."

 

The sides' previous meeting in the knockout stages of a European Championship came when the tournament was hosted by England in 1996.

On that occasion, Germany progressed to the final courtesy of a penalty shootout that featured a miss from now Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate.

Henderson insisted that tournament disappointment has not been discussed by the current squad but revealed that penalty practice is taking place in preparation for a shootout.

He added: "No, we haven't spoken about it and I’m not sure we will, either. A lot of talk will be on penalties but, for us, being in a penalty shootout not so long ago and we practice penalties all the time, it's just part and parcel of football in tournaments.

"We try to do it seriously because you want to practice properly, the whole process. It’s important you do it properly and you are clear in your mind if you do need to take a penalty.

"Overcoming a penalty shoot-out in the World Cup was a big thing mentally for everyone, so I do think we’ve improved with that over the last few years. 

"That's going to be a big thing on Tuesday. In football or in any sport, mental strength is a huge part of it. I feel we've got a lot of players in the squad who are very mentally strong and that's going to be important."

RB Leipzig have confirmed American teenager Caden Clark will join them from New York Red Bulls.

Midfielder Clark will move to the Bundesliga club on a deal that runs until June 2024, though not until the end of the MLS season.

The 18-year-old was part of Barcelona's youth system before moving to New York. He scored on his first-team debut last October and has made eight appearances in 2020-21, managing four goals and an assist.

"Caden Clark has fantastic skills and enormous potential," Leipzig technical director Christopher Vivell said. "He can play anywhere across attacking midfield and is incredibly adaptable in his playing style.

"As well as that, he is a scoring threat, has great passing quality and strikes the ball well, allowing him to score goals from range.

"These skills make him a perfect fit for our playing philosophy."

Clark's move has long been rumoured, considering the connection between the clubs.

He scored six goals in the previous MLS campaign including playoff appearances, despite spending just 770 minutes on the pitch.

His form has been impressive in 2021, too, though Clark – who is yet to play for the United States but was recently included in the national team's preliminary squad for the 2021 Gold Cup – is currently out of action after undergoing an appendectomy.

"I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that the New York Red Bulls have given me," the talented prospect said in a statement.

"Being able to not only develop but play significant minutes at USL and MLS here has truly helped me grow professionally. I will continue to do what I can to help this team win its first MLS Cup."

With the group stage of Euro 2020 now over, we can get down to the important business: arguing over who have been the best players until now.

The first three matchdays produced some enthralling spectacles, a handful of shocks and one or two rather forgettable encounters of which there is no need to speak any more.

We have seen some rather obvious star turns, such as a certain Portugal striker equalling the record for international goals in men's football, while other standout performers have flown a little more under the radar.

Here, using Opta data for added insight, Stats Perform presents the Euro 2020 team of the group stage. Please do read on for a few explanations before starting on those angry comments...

 

 

GK: DANNY WARD

Wales battled their way into the knockout rounds after finishing second in Group A, ahead of Switzerland on goal difference. Much of that is down to Danny Ward's form.

The Leicester City man saved 86.7 of the shots on target he faced, the best record among keepers to make at least five saves.

 

LCB: DALEY BLIND

The Netherlands surprised a few people with three convincing wins in Group C, with Daley Blind's calm yet authoritative presence at the heart of their performances.

Blind completed 221 passes in the group stage, more than any other Oranje player, with more than half of those (115) coming in opposition territory.

 

CB: ANDREAS CHRISTENSEN

Quite rightly celebrated for that thunderbolt of a goal in Denmark's key victory over Russia, Andreas Christensen's all-round displays make him worthy of inclusion here.

The Chelsea defender won 79.2 of his duels in the first three rounds, a tally bettered only by Oleksandr Karavaev (80 per cent) and Thomas Vermaelen (90 per cent) among those to contest at least 10.

 

RCB: LEONARDO BONUCCI

Italy's 1.3 expected goals against was the lowest figure of any side in the group phase, underlining the imperious nature of their form not just at these finals but in the whole of their 11-game winning run in which they have not let in a single goal.

Leonardo Bonucci has been the rock at the back, particularly with Giorgio Chiellini battling injury. He has won possession 11 times, the most of any Azzurri defender, and has yet to be beaten by a dribble.

 

LWB: JORDI ALBA

Jordi Alba was Spain's standout performer until the rest of the team somewhat caught up on matchday three as they turned on the style to thrash Slovakia 5-0.

The Barcelona left-back completed 247 passes, the most of any defender after Aymeric Laporte (259), while leading the way for possession won (30 times).

 

CM: GEORGINIO WIJNALDUM

With three goals in three games, Georginio Wijnaldum surpassed the great Marco van Basten on the all-time Netherlands scoring charts to reach 25 for his country.

Enjoying a more advanced role at these finals, Paris Saint-Germain fans are being given a glimpse of what the midfielder could provide for them next season.

 

CM: PIERRE-EMILE HOJBJERG

Alongside Kevin De Bruyne, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is one of only two midfielders to create nine goalscoring chances during the group stage.

The Tottenham man set up two Denmark's goals in the 4-1 hammering of Russia to move to three assists at these finals, a tally matched only by Switzerland's Steven Zuber.

 

CM: MANUEL LOCATELLI

His two goals against Switzerland were the highlight of his group-stage displays and made Manuel Locatelli just the third Italy player to score twice in a single European Championship match.

The Sassuolo star was rested against Wales, but the quality of his performances in the first two games prompted rumours that Juventus have redoubled their efforts to sign him.

 

RWB: DENZEL DUMFRIES

Full-back Denzel Dumfries became an unlikely goalscoring hero for Frank de Boer, becoming just the second Netherlands player to score in his first two European Championship games (the first was Ruud van Nistelrooy).

Denmark wing-back Joakim Maehle was the only nominal defender with more touches in the opposition box (20) during the group stage than Dumfries (17).

 

CF: ROMELU LUKAKU

Continuing his spectacular Inter form at these finals, Romelu Lukaku scored three times in Belgium's group games from a total of just four shots on target.

He would probably be the favourite for the Golden Boot were it not for the form of the only man to outscore him in Serie A last season...

 

CF: CRISTIANO RONALDO

With five goals in three games, Cristiano Ronaldo became the leading goalscorer at the World Cup and European Championship combined (21).

The Portugal captain needs just one more to surpass Ali Daei as the top-scoring international men's footballer of all time.

We had to wait an extra year, but the Euro 2020 group stage threw up drama and records – and in terms of goals it delivered magnificently.

With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku hitting their stride, it was a feast for the strikers, with 94 goals scored across the 36 games.

That represented a massive raising of the bar after only 69 goals were netted at the same stage in the 2016 tournament.

Here, Stats Perform looks at the most eye-catching numbers that defined the first 13 days of this delayed tournament – ahead of the do-or-die knockout stage getting under way.

 

Ronaldo making up for lost time

Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score as many as five goals in the group stages of a single European Championship since Michel Platini bagged seven for France in 1984, on his way to a nine-goal tournament tally. Three of Ronaldo's goals for Portugal at this tournament have been penalties, while Platini netted just one spot-kick during France's run 37 years ago.

Impressively, Platini's goals in 1984 came from an expected goals (xG) rate of just 3.32, while Ronaldo has recorded his five from a total of 4.71 so far. Opta builds its expected goals data by measuring the quality of an attempt based on variables such as assist type, shot angle and distance from goal, whether it was a headed shot and whether it was defined as a big chance. It means Ronaldo has put away approximately the number of goals he should have expected to score.

Ronaldo scored twice from the penalty spot in Wednesday's 2-2 draw with France, the first game in the history of the Euros to see three spot-kicks scored, excluding shoot-outs.

Defending champions Portugal have been far from perfect, however, dropping a competition-high five points from winning positions.

While Ronaldo has the most goals of any player so far in these finals, he has not been able to keep up with the rising tide of own goals. There have been a staggering eight, as many as were scored between the 1980 and 2016 editions combined.

 

Firing range

Why wait until seeing the whites of the goalkeeper's eyes before offloading a shot?

Patrik Schick had one quick glance towards David Marshall's goal and let fly from 49.7 yards at Hampden Park to put the Czech Republic 2-0 in front against Scotland. That incredible moment gave Schick the longest-range strike on record at the European Championship, with such measured distances available from the 1980 tournament onwards.

There were 304 shots from outside the penalty area in the group stage, but only 12 goals scored from such long range. That ratio of one goal for every 25.3 shots from long distance was nevertheless an improvement on the Euro 2016 numbers, when just 16 goals from outside the area were scored from 638 attempts across the whole tournament – one every 39.9 shots.

 

Low Countries, tall targets

Belgium and the Netherlands are nations who have experienced mixed fortunes on the football field in the 21st century, but both will feel a big moment could be arriving.

The Belgian Red Devils were absent from all major tournaments between their appearances at the 2002 and 2014 World Cups, while the Dutch were conspicuous by their absence from Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.

Lukaku, with three goals so far, has been a terrific spearhead of the Belgium side, netting 50 per cent of the goals their players have netted (excluding own goals) at Euro 2020 despite only taking 22 per cent of their shots – seven of 32 attempts.

If Lukaku keeps firing, with Kevin De Bruyne and co prompting from midfield, then Belgium, who have never won a World Cup or European Championship, have a strong chance to show why they are ranked by FIFA as the world's number one team.

Belgium exceeded their collective xG tally by 3.15 – scoring seven against xG of 3.85 – the highest number by which any side surpassed their expected goals in their opening three games.

Their neighbours, the Netherlands, have also caught the eye. Ronald Koeman lifted the Oranje from their doldrums and successor Ronald de Boer has guided the team through the group stage as top scorers and with a 100 per cent record.

That Group C success, with eight goals scored and two conceded, came on the back of Georginio Wijnaldum scoring three times. In doing so, he has overtaken Marco van Basten and Dirk Kuyt on the list of the Netherlands' leading international goalscorers, moving to 25, one ahead of the former Milan and Liverpool forwards.

Or, to put it another way, Wijnaldum is halfway to matching Robin van Persie's record haul of 50 international goals.

 

Boring, boring England?

England, by netting only twice, became the lowest-scoring side to ever finish top of a group at a European Championship. They did not so much storm through Group D as plod a methodical path through to the last-16 stage, although an xG of 4.45 suggests England have at least been creating chances, albeit not finishing as well as they might.

Yet England might yet go far. Germany visit Wembley next Tuesday and will encounter English players who have only been dribbled past 12 times in the group stage, the lowest number among all competing teams. England's expected goals against (xGA) tally is a miserly 1.33, the second lowest in the tournament behind an Italy side (1.3) who have got it right at both ends of the pitch to.

Turkey's players were dribbled past on 36 occasions, a group-stage high, and only North Macedonia (8.85) had a higher xGA than Senol Gunes' team (7.69), who failed to live up to 'dark horse' expectations.

 

Riding their luck? Or being all out of it?

Wales conceded just twice, defying an xGA total of 5.47, and reached the knockout stage on the back of that. The gap of 3.47 between expectation and reality with that metric was the highest among all competing teams.

Conversely, Scotland scored just once against an xG of 4.00 – with 3.00 the highest negative difference between xG and goals scored.

Russia bowed out, and could hardly blame anyone but themselves. Their players made three errors leading to goals – more than any other side and the joint-most by any nation at a finals going back to 1980, the point from which records are available.

Hungary also exited the tournament. They predictably finished last in the 'group of death' – adrift of France, Germany and Portugal – but Hungary were surprisingly ahead for more minutes and trailed for fewer than any other team in that Group F campaign.

Denmark squeezed through in second place behind Belgium in Group B, becoming the first team in European Championship history to reach the knockout stages of the competition having lost their first two group stage games. After the alarm of the Christian Eriksen situation, many would love them to go further.

Would you Luka that!

Luka Modric became the oldest player to score for Croatia at the Euros, netting a gorgeous strike in the 3-1 win against Scotland at the age of 35 years and 286 days. That made it an unusual double for the veteran playmaker, who also holds the record for being Croatia's youngest scorer at the tournament (22 years 73 days versus Austria in 2008).

Modric continues to marvel, and there was a slice of history for another midfielder in the group stage as Switzerland's Steven Zuber became only the third player since 1980 to register three assists in a single European Championship game – doing so against Turkey – after Portugal's Rui Costa in his rampaging 2000 display that tormented England and Denmark's Michael Laudrup in 1984 against Yugoslavia.

Georginio Wijnaldum will wear a rainbow-coloured armband when he captains the Netherlands against the Czech Republic in Budapest on Sunday and has declared that he and his team-mates could leave the field if they are subjected to any form of abuse.

Hungary has faced criticism over its treatment of LGBTQ people after passing a law that prohibits the sharing of content in schools that could be deemed to promote homosexuality and gender change.

Football's attempts to show support have also created controversy, with UEFA launching an investigation into Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's use of a rainbow armband - a nod to the flag of the LGBTQ community - before acknowledging the motif as "a team symbol for diversity".

However, the governing body did not allow Munich's Allianz Arena to be lit up in those colours for Germany's final Group F game against Hungary on Wednesday, ostensibly due to its rules regarding political neutrality.

But that has not discouraged Wijnaldum from plans to wear an armband featuring the words "One Love" for the first time in the tournament when the Dutch head to the Hungarian capital.

"It is not just against Hungary," he said. "The armband means a lot because we stand for diversity – one love means everybody is a part of it and everybody should be free to be who they are.

"In our opinion [the right to be yourself] has been encroached upon. As players we have a podium to do whatever we can to help."

UEFA launched an investigation into allegations that France star Kylian Mbappe and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo faced racist and homophobic abuse during their appearances in Budapest.

And Wijnaldum has warned that he will be ready to take his team off the pitch should any such incidents occur during Sunday's last-16 clash.

"UEFA should be there to protect the players and make the decision," he said. "It should not be left to the players. Players often get punished for protecting themselves so UEFA needs to take a lead role in this.

"I have said I don’t really know how I will react in such a situation. I thought first that I would walk off the pitch but maybe not now because maybe the opponent will think: ‘Let them [in the crowd] throw racist slurs and they will walk off the pitch'.

"It could be the case that I will walk off the pitch but I will speak with the players about it first."

Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo provided some of the most enduring images of Euro 2020 when France faced off with Portugal on Wednesday.

Social media was abuzz over the "bromance" between the former Real Madrid team-mates, the pair sharing a cheeky smirk with one another prior to kick-off and then embracing both at half-time and after the final whistle.

The duo both moved to the Santiago Bernabeu at the same time in their careers ahead of the 2009-10 season and enjoyed nine prolific campaigns together before Ronaldo – Madrid's all-time record goalscorer – moved on to Juventus.

Clearly, the respect the two have for one another still runs deep, with Benzema revealing what they discussed after a thrilling 2-2 draw in Budapest, a result which means both teams progress to the last 16.

"It's nice to see him again, we have come a long way together," Benzema told reporters following a game in which he and Ronaldo both scored twice.

"We both played eight or nine years at Real Madrid, we scored goals, won trophies.

"We spoke, we wished each other good luck for the future with our clubs and in the tournament and especially to continue to have fun on the field and continue to make the difference."

Ronaldo has scored five times in the tournament to draw level with Ali Daei's record of 109 international goals. Portugal next face Belgium, while world champions France are up against Switzerland.

New England Revolution claimed their fifth consecutive MLS victory after staving off a late scare to win 3-2 over New York Red Bulls on Wednesday.

The Revolution raced to a three-goal lead but were forced to hold on in the final quarter of an hour after strikes from Patryk Klimala and Andres Reyes midweek.

Carles Gil provided the assist for all three Revolution goals, taking his season tally to an MLS-high 10, stabbing through to Canadian forward Tajon Buchanan for the 26th-minute opener.

Spanish midfielder Gil laid off for DeJuan Jones' 32nd-minute strike, before pumping the ball forward for Gustavo Bou to make it 3-0 six minutes into the second half before the Red Bulls rallied.

The win moved New England five points clear in the Eastern Conference, sitting ahead of Orlando City – who have a game in hand – and Philadelphia Union who are both on 18 points.

Jamiro Monteiro scored the only goal of the game as Philadelphia kept up their good form with a 1-0 victory over Columbus Crew.

Seattle Sounders remain unbeaten after Raul Ruidiaz's 88th-minute penalty clinched a 2-1 win against Real Salt Lake, extending their club-record unbeaten start to 10 matches.

Cristian Roldan had put Seattle ahead five minutes into the second half, reacting fastest to score from a rebound inside the box.

RSL levelled with 12 minutes to go, when they won a penalty which was converted by Slovakian Albert Rusnak.

Ruidiaz had the final say netting his eighth goal of the season with a cool Panenka finish from the spot for the Western Conference-leading Sounders.

New York City continued their rollercoaster run with a 1-0 triumph over Atlanta United via Ismael Tajouri's 69th-minute winner.

Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez got on the scoresheet before late drama as LA Galaxy won 2-1 at Vancouver Whitecaps.

Former Manchester United and Real Madrid forward Chicharito opened the scoring, sliding home in the 47th minute with Galaxy appearing destined to claim all three points before a 90th-minute equaliser from Janio Bikel.

There would be another late twist, when the Galaxy's Efrain Alvarez scored in the third minute of stoppage – his stunning strike finding the back of the net after hopeful ball into the box.

Mexico international Carlos Vela also netted along with providing an assist as Los Angeles FC won 2-0 over Dallas.

Elsewhere, Sporting Kansas City defeated Colorado Rapids 3-1, Portland Timbers and Houston Dynamo drew 2-2, Nashville outlasted Toronto 3-2 courtesy of a 92nd-minute winner, Cincinnati edged Chicago Fire 1-0, Minnesota United beat Austin 2-0, while 10-man Montreal and DC United played out a goalless stalemate.

Is Lionel Messi's future close to being resolved?

Messi is out of contract at Barcelona and the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked with a move away.

But, if reports are to be believed, the superstar is on the verge of extending his Barca contract.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI SET TO RENEW AT CAMP NOU

Lionel Messi will renew his contract with Barcelona until 2023, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Messi is out of contract at Camp Nou and the superstar captain has been linked with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

But Messi is poised to re-sign, with an official deal reportedly only a matter of time.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are edging closer to signing long-time transfer target and Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, reports Bild.

- Diario AS claims Real Madrid are set to rival Arsenal for Real Sociedad star Alexander Isak. The Sweden international appeals as a more affordable option compared to Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and PSG forward Kylian Mbappe.

- Inter star Achraf Hakimi is expected to join PSG, says Romano. Personal terms have reportedly been agreed until 2026. He has also been linked with Chelsea.

- Premier League champions City are willing to wait a year to sign a striker if they are unable to prise Harry Kane from Tottenham, according to ESPN. Kane has been linked with City, United, Chelsea, Madrid and Barca amid reports he wants to leave Spurs. With Tottenham unwilling to sell Kane, City are prepared to wait in the transfer market as they also eye Haaland.

- Mundo Deportivo claims Inter want to sign Barca full-back Jordi Alba, with the Serie A holders willing to offer three players – Milan Skriniar, Lautaro Martinez and Marcelo Brozovic.

- Maurizio Sarri's Lazio are close to signing Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira, reports Sky Sport Italia.

West Ham have made a bid to sign Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic, says Sky Sport Italia. The Serbia international has previously been linked with Tottenham, United and Milan.

A quick glance on Twitter and the trending topics in Colombia and Brazil would give you a rough idea of what transpired in Rio de Janeiro.

Pitana, Ospina, Colombia, Brazil and Copa America were among the trending names and words via social media after controversy marred the Selecao's 2-1 victory on Wednesday.

Reigning Copa America champions Brazil completed a stunning comeback in the 100th minute thanks to Casemiro's last-gasp header, but Colombia were still seething from an incident in the 78th minute.

Roberto Firmino's equaliser with 12 minutes of regulation time remaining came after the ball deflected off referee Nestor Pitana in the build-up – the official allowing play to continue rather than call for a drop-ball, leading to lengthy protests from goalkeeper David Ospina and Colombia.

The goal stood, even after a VAR review.

But amid the Copa chaos, Brazil head coach Tite added to his growing legacy.

While Brazil had their run of six consecutive clean sheets ended, a streak dating back to October 2020, the Selecao extended their winning streak to 10 consecutive games.

Casemiro's goal – officially timed at 99:22, the latest recorded 90th-minute goal in a Copa fixture since Arturo Vidal scored for Chile against Bolivia in 2016 at 99:48, sealed top spot in Group B with one game remaining while preserving a 100 per cent record at this year's tournament on home soil.

It saw Tite surpass his own record with Brazil.

With wins over Colombia, Peru (twice), Venezuela (twice), Paraguay, Ecuador, Uruguay, Bolivia and South Korea, Tite exceeded his previous winning streak of nine straight games (in 2016) at the helm of the Selecao.

Tite was influential on the sidelines as Brazil bounced back from Luis Diaz's stunning and acrobatic 10th-minute opener.

He introduced Renan Lodi and Firmino – the pair were involved for Brazil's second-half equaliser against Colombia.

At the end of the encounter, Tite passed Sebastiao Lazaroni as the second coach with the most Copa America matches without defeats – eight to seven.

Legendary former coach Mario Zagallo – who won two World Cups as a player and one while in charge of Brazil, holds the record, having not tasted defeated in 12 appearances at the CONMEBOL tournament.

Since being appointed in 2016, Tite has overseen 43 wins, 10 draws and four defeats.

Controversy or not, the Tite train rolls on in pursuit of back-to-back Copa crowns.

Brazil head coach Tite slammed the "inadmissible" pitch at Estadio Nilton Santos in Rio de Janeiro, despite Wednesday's controversial 2-1 Copa America win over Colombia.

Tite's Brazil were forced to come from behind for their 10th consecutive win, needing a last-gasp Casemiro header 10 minutes into stoppage time to secure a dramatic victory midweek.

Luis Diaz's stunning and acrobatic volley had given Colombia a 10th-minute lead and defending champions Brazil struggled to create any chances until the second half, with substitute Roberto Firmino equalising with 12 minutes of regulation remaining.

Colombia were left seething when Firmino's 78th-minute equaliser came after the ball deflected off referee Nestor Pitana in the build-up – the official allowing play to continue rather than call for a drop-ball, leading to lengthy protests from Colombia.

Casemiro's 100th-minute goal – officially timed at 99:22, the latest recorded 90th-minute goal at the Copa America since 2016, then sealed top spot for in-form Brazil in Group B.

Brazil head coach Tite took aim at the playing surface, claiming it "spoiled the whole spectacle" and made it hard for his side to play.

"We have to understand the game within a context," Tite said at his news conference. "It was a field that I won't call horrible, but very bad for playing football, it spoils the whole spectacle.

"Whoever wants to create cannot. It is inadmissible for athletes from two high-level teams, who play in Europe with such a great quality of turf and a better, bigger spectacle, to come and play on a field under these conditions.

"The ball is torn. The fluency of the play is all impaired. If I take all the players from Brazil and ask them to comment on it, they will say almost the same thing I am saying.

"If we want a great show, we have to provide the conditions. It was very damaged. It's one of the aspects that I want to make clear."

Tite, whose Brazil had their run of six consecutive clean sheets ended, added: "This game is not the characteristic of the traditional Brazil against Colombia game. All the other games were competitive, but they had more play.

"We played pressured. And playing pressured is difficult, soon you want to get rhythm and you can't."

Tite was forthright on the playing surface, although he refused to be drawn on his side's controversial leveller, which occurred after the ball deflected off referee Nestor Pitana, who opted to allow play to continue.

Colombia's players protested the decision with Pitana for several minutes, after a goal was awarded despite a VAR check.

"I regret what I'm going to say, but Pitana has to take care," Tite said. "He has to take care."

Lorenzo Insigne dismissed speculation linking him with a move to Serie A rivals Lazio amid doubts over his Napoli future.

Insigne is entering the final year of his contract and the captain is yet to re-sign with boyhood club Napoli, where he emerged from the youth team in 2010.

The Italy star has been linked with LaLiga duo Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, while Liverpool and Milan have previously emerged as possible destinations.

Insigne was asked about his future, with reports claiming Italy team-mate Ciro Immobile is trying to lure the 30-year-old to Lazio.

"This rumour came out that Immobile is acting as sporting director to bring me to Lazio, but it's not true," Insigne said as Italy prepare for Saturday's Euro 2020 last-16 clash with Austria.

"He didn't tell me anything about it. We're friends, we're going on vacation together, but we haven't talked about that."

Insigne added: "I am only thinking of playing the European Championship, afterwards there is time to talk to the club.

"As for my career, I have no regrets. What I always dreamed of was playing for Napoli and wearing the armband. My two dreams have come true and therefore I am not happy, but overjoyed."

Defending champions Brazil secured top spot in Group B in dramatic fashion, claiming a last-gasp 2-1 win over Colombia as controversy marred the Copa America showdown.

Colombia were left seething when Brazil substitute Roberto Firmino's 78th-minute equaliser came after the ball deflected off referee Nestor Pitana in the build-up – the official allowing play to continue rather than call for a drop-ball, leading to lengthy protests from Colombia.

Brazil compounded Colombia's frustrations after Casemiro struck in the 10th minute of stoppage time as the Selecao extended their winning streak to 10 games on Wednesday.

Colombia had been holding on to a 1-0 lead after Luis Diaz's spectacular 10th-minute volley, ending Brazil's six-game run without conceding a goal.

Reinaldo Rueda's Colombia took the lead in stunning fashion, when Juan Cuadrado whipped in a cross from the right flank, finding an unmarked Diaz – who fired home a sensational bicycle volley at the back post in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil, who went into the game having scored more goals (seven) and had more shots on target per game (eight) than any other team at this year's Copa America, struggled to create chances in the first 45 minutes.

Neymar had his first sniff on goal in the 55th minute from a direct ball he volleyed tamely on target, while he shot wide from outside the box shortly after.

In the 66th minute, half-time substitute Firmino produced a clever pass for Neymar to round goalkeeper David Ospina, only to hit the post off-balance from an angle.

Brazil found an equaliser with 12 minutes remaining, although it was controversial after the ball hit the referee in the lead-up, with play allowed to continue, rather than a drop-ball.

Tite's Selecao immediately pushed the ball wide to substitute Renan Lodi, whose cross was glanced in by Firmino, with Ospina unable to prevent it from creeping under him.

With virtually the last kick of the game, an unmarked Casemiro headed in Neymar's corner at the near post, sparking mass celebrations.

Spain head coach Luis Enrique believes critics of his side could have nothing to complain about after their 5-0 rout of Slovakia sealed their spot in the Euro 2020 last 16.

Luis Enrique's Spain had been subject to boos from their fans along with media criticism following 0-0 and 1-1 draws with Sweden and Poland respectively in their opening two Euro 2020 games, both in Seville.

A lot of the attention has centred on forward Alvaro Morata, who missed an early penalty against Slovakia, but Luis Enrique's side turned around those woes with an emphatic display, securing the biggest win of Euro 2020 so far.

The victory also equalled the largest margin of victory in a game at the European Championships, Spain becoming the fifth different side to win by five goals in the tournament (after France and Denmark in 1984, the Netherlands in 2000 and Sweden in 2004).

Aymeric Laporte, Pablo Sarabia and Ferran Torres all netted along with two own goals as Spain secured second spot behind Sweden in Group E, setting up a last-16 date with Croatia.

"I believe people can have plenty of complaints, but I really don't think there can be any criticisms of today," Luis Enrique told his post-game news conference.

"We will prepare for the last-16 with plenty of confidence and we're desperate for Monday to come around soon."

He added: "It is a relief. Not just for me, but in terms of what it means with our ability to achieve a convincing result with our style."

The former Barcelona boss added that they would "pop a bottle of Cava" to celebrate their progress but wanted more in the knockout stage, with his lofty expectations unchanged.

"We will go step by step. I've spoken about what I believe we can achieve and the expectations we have as a national team and I haven't changed my opinion," Luis Enrique said.

"We have certainly popped that bottle of Cava, therefore we are delighted, we are pleased the fans and players have had a good time.

"Now it's time for us to get another bottle of Cava and see if we can pop that too."

Spain will take on Croatia in Copenhagen on Monday, with the teams last meeting twice in 2018 via the Nations League.

Croatia won 3-2 in Zagreb, while Spain thrashed the 2018 World Cup finalists 6-0 in Elche in those encounters.

"They are a top team with players we know well, we played in the Nations League two years ago as well," Luis Enrique said.

"It will be a tough match but when you get to last 16 you can't expect easy teams."

Didier Deschamps has concerns over the fitness of defensive duo Lucas Digne and Lucas Hernandez as France get ready to play in a "new competition" at Euro 2020.

France finished top of Group F thanks to a 2-2 draw against fellow qualifiers Portugal on Wednesday, with second-placed Germany also making it through to the last 16.

Reigning world champions France saw Karim Benzema score twice – his first goals at international level since October 8, 2015 – but had to finish the game in Budapest with midfielder Adrien Rabiot playing at left-back.

Deschamps substituted Hernandez at half-time due to what he described as a minor knee issue, though the Bayern Munich player had also received a yellow card in the 36th minute.

Replacement Digne did not last long and, as the France head coach revealed in his post-match news conference, the Everton player could now be ruled out for the remainder of the tournament.

Asked to provide an update on both players, Deschamps told the media: "The most worrying is Lucas Digne.

"He has a muscle injury, he felt a pull behind his thigh. It will be very complicated [for the rest of Euro 2020].

"Lucas Hernandez also had a small problem, his knee reacted a bit. I didn't want to take any risks. Unfortunately in the same game, I lost both. We'll see for Hernandez in the next few days."

 

Deschamps utilised Jules Kounde at right-back in a 4-2-3-1 system, though made clear it is by no means certain he will stick with the formation for their next game, which sees France take on Switzerland in the round of 16.

"It seemed to me to be better disposed on an individual and collective level, but it will not always be that for the future," he said on his tactical approach. "It can be, but it is not a firm and definitive position today."

France finished with five points from their three games. They are unbeaten in each of their last 12 group-stage outings at major international tournaments, winning seven and drawing five.

"Other teams were able to give a better impression than ours," Deschamps said after engineering a path out of a tough group.

"But a new competition will begin. Winning against Germany was very important for us. Having taken a point in a particular context against Hungary, it gave us the qualification before this match.

"As I told the players, there was no math to do except at the end. We did not do everything well, but the state of mind was there, we can still improve things. I am very satisfied to be there once again."

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