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Euro 2024: Austria earn victory against Poland, Ukraine fight back to beat Slovakia

Euro 2024: Austria earn victory against Poland, Ukraine fight back to beat Slovakia

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Euro 2024: Austria earn victory against Poland, Ukraine fight back to beat Slovakia

Austria claimed a convincing 3-1 win over Poland in Berlin on Friday to take a step towards the Euro 2024 knock-out rounds.

Robert Lewandowski returned from a thigh injury as a substitute for Poland, now on the brink of elimination from Group D after two defeats, but could not help his team make inroads against Ralf Rangnick’s sturdy side.

Poland striker Krzysztof Piatek levelled Gernot Trauner’s opener, but Christoph Baumgartner and Marko Arnautovic’s second-half goals earned Austria three vital points.

In the same group tournament favourites France take on the Netherlands in a heavyweight clash in Leipzig later Friday, with star forward Kylian Mbappe on the bench after suffering a broken nose in France’s opening win over Austria.

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Earlier Ukraine came from behind to beat Slovakia 2-1 to move second in Group E before Romania face Belgium on Saturday.

With Austria and Poland both bordering host nation Germany it was no surprise to see a sold-out stadium and a raucous crowd at the Olympiastadion, with both teams defeated in their opening matches and desperate for victory.

Poland supporters roared when captain and all-time top scorer Lewandowski appeared on the big screen but he was only fit to start on the bench.

Austria dominated the opening stages and Trauner powered home a header at the near post from the enterprising Phillipp Mwene’s cross.

Piatek levelled for Poland after half an hour, staying calm in the box when a rebound fell his way and slotting into the bottom corner.

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With the game level approaching the hour mark, Poland coach Michal Probierz sent on Lewandowski, who took the captain’s armband.

Showing little concern about his injury, the forward charged around and quickly picked up a booking for catching Philipp Lienhart with his arm.

Austria regained the lead after 67 minutes when Arnautovic cleverly stepped over a pass received by Baumgartner, who stroked into the bottom corner.

Baumgartner celebrated wildly with Rangnick and gave the former interim Manchester United coach credit.

“He supports me every day and gave me a lot of strength at half-time,” explained the midfielder.

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“He talked to me for three or four minutes, so the thanks went to him too.”

Veteran captain Arnautovic, 35, sealed the win with a late penalty after Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny felled Marcel Sabitzer.

Austria face the Netherlands in Berlin in their final game, while Poland face France, by when they may already be out.

If the Netherlands do not beat France later on, Poland will be eliminated.

France line up later Friday with Mbappe only ready to play from the bench after his nose break.

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On Thursday coach Didier Deschamps said Les Bleus would “do what we can” to have the new Real Madrid forward available, shortly before Mbappe trained in a protective face mask.

Dutch fans brought a party atmosphere to Leipzig in the hours ahead of the game, recreating the bouncing sea of “Oranje” video which went viral after their opening win over Poland in Hamburg.

‘SPIRIT OF UKRAINE’

Yaremchuk came off the bench to hit the winner for Ukraine in Dusseldorf, completing a comeback against Slovakia and earning the team congratulations from the country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky.

After a bruising 3-0 defeat by Romania in their first outing, this time Ukraine showed spirit to fight back with Mykola Shaparenko levelling early in the second half following Ivan Schranz’s early opener.

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With war ongoing in their homeland Ukraine players emerged with their country’s flag draped over their shoulders.

Slovakia shares a border with Ukraine but the country’s populist Prime Minister Robert Fico is an opponent of military aid to the Ukrainians.

“The players showed the spirit of Ukraine on the pitch and deserved the win,” said their coach Serhiy Rebrov, whose team are playing at a first major tournament since Russian forces invaded in 2022.

Zelensky said “Way to go guys!” in a message on social media network X as he celebrated their triumph, which he believes showed his country can “take a punch and overcome obstacles”.

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Rakitic joins Hajduk Split after leaving Al-Shabab

Rakitic joins Hajduk Split after leaving Al-Shabab

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Rakitic joins Hajduk Split after leaving Al-Shabab

Former Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic is joining Hajduk Split after Saudi Pro League club Al-Shabab terminated his contract by mutual consent following a six-month spell.

The 36-year-old scored once in eight games after joining Al-Shabab in January 2024 as they finished eighth on 52 points.

“The club management agreed with the Croatian player Ivan Rakitic to terminate the contractual relationship between the two parties by mutual consent,” the Saudi club posted on the X social media platform.

Hajduk Split on Sunday announced the signing of the former Barcelona and Sevilla midfielder for one season with the option of an extra year in what will be his first campaign in Croatia.

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Rakitic, who was born in Switzerland, played 106 games for Croatia, scoring 15 goals, and helped the country reach the World Cup final in 2018. 

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Croatia’s Vida retires from international football

Croatia’s Vida retires from international football

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Croatia's Vida retires from international football

Croatia defender Domagoj Vida has retired from international soccer after 14 years in the national team, the Croatian Football Federation said on Sunday.

Vida, 35, made his international debut in May 2010 and has played 105 matches for Croatia. He was part of the Croatia side that reached the final of World Cup 2018 and finished third in World Cup 2022.

“It is an honour to wear the most beautiful jersey in the world once in your career,” Vida said in a statement.

“And when you do it 105 times, you play in seven major competitions … then you can just be infinitely grateful for such a privilege.”

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Former Bayer Leverkusen and Besiktas player Vida currently plays for Greek top-flight club AEK Athens. 

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Canada defender Collins to miss Paris 2024 soccer tournament through injury

Canada defender Collins to miss Paris 2024 soccer tournament through injury

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Canada defender Collins to miss Paris 2024 soccer tournament through injury

Canada defender Sydney Collins will miss the Paris 2024 women’s soccer tournament after fracturing her left leg during a training game in her first match back after suffering a similar injury to her right leg earlier this year, Team Canada said on Saturday.

Gabrielle Carle will replace Collins in Canada’s Olympic squad, while Desiree Scott will take Carle’s spot as an alternate for the Tokyo 2020 gold medallists, it said.

Collins sustained the injury on Thursday during a closed-door training match against Nigeria, her first since fracturing her right leg in February.

“Our hearts go out to Sydney during this difficult time. She has worked incredibly hard to return in time for Paris 2024, and while this is a setback, we know she will come back stronger,” said women’s national team head coach Bev Priestman.

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“She will be with us in spirit every step of the way.

“With the depth and resilience of our roster, it’s a next-player-up mentality, and both Gabby and Desiree’s experience will be invaluable to our team’s success.”

Canada will begin the defence of their Olympic title on July 25 against Group A opponents New Zealand. 

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