MUNICH (AP) — The second-half subs saved Germany’s day at the European Championship.
Leon Goretzka scored in the 84th minute after Timo Werner’s shot was blocked following a run through the defense from Jamal Musiala.
That gave the Germans a 2-2 draw with Hungary on Wednesday, enough for them to finish in second place in the group. A loss would have sent the Hungarians into the next round and sent Germany home early for the second straight major tournament.
“That was nothing for weak nerves,” said Germany coach Joachim Löw, who is stepping down after Euro 2020 but certainly made the right moves on a rainy night in Munich.
Goretzka came off the bench in the 58th minute, Werner followed in the 67th and Musiala came on in the 82nd.
Three years after being eliminated from the group stage at the 2018 World Cup, Germany can now look forward to a trip to London to face England on Tuesday in the round of 16 at Wembley Stadium.
“There is hardly a nicer match,” Germany midfielder Joshua Kimmich said. “Whether it has to be in the round of 16 ... we’re definitely looking forward to it. I hope now we’ve finally arrived at the tournament.”
It had looked like Ádám Szalai was going to drag Hungary into the round of 16. The team's captain scored an early goal against the run of play and then set up András Schäfer to make it 2-1 right after Kai Havertz had equalized for Germany.
“We made mistakes but we fought until the equalizer was there. The morale was sensationally good,” Löw said.
Germany made the better start but trailed early yet again when Szalai met Roland Sallai’s cross with a flying header on a counterattack in the 11th.
On the other end, the home team struggled against Hungary’s defensive 5-3-2 formation.
“You could see that they defended very well against Portugal and France for long stretches," Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said. "It was a defense of many legs.”
The Germans also seemed to miss Thomas Müller’s unpredictability. He was on the bench because of a knee injury sustained in the 4-2 win over Portugal. Leroy Sané started in his place, the only change Löw made from the teams that started both previous games.
Germany had to wait till the 66th when the normally excellent Péter Gulácsi failed to punch away Toni Koos’ free kick. Mats Hummels headed the ball forward and Havertz made sure from close range.
Celebrations were cut short, however, as Hungary replied immediately when Szalai played in Schäfer to head the ball past Neuer.
“That must never happen if you want to achieve something in a tournament like this,” Goretzka said.
It would have been enough to send Hungary through to the next round at Germany’s expense, but Löw’s substitutes rescued the game and kept him in his job for at least a few more days.
Portugal drew 2-2 with France in the other group game and both have progressed, while Hungary finished last with two points and has been eliminated.
“The group we got was probably the hardest you can get in Europe,” Gulácsi said. “Still, we were on course to progress until the 84th minute. Little things decide in the end. We didn’t imagine before the tournament that we’d be so close. Now of course it’s bitter.”
Before kickoff, a person with a rainbow flag ran onto the field and held it up in front of the Hungary team as the country's national anthem was being played. The person was quickly tackled by stewards and pinned to the ground, and then led away to cheers and applause.
Buildup to the match had been overshadowed by a spat over the Munich city’s council’s request to illuminate the stadium in rainbow colors. UEFA refused on the grounds that it was a political statement directly addressed against Hungary.
Many German fans carried small rainbow flags that were distributed by activists before the game.
Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP