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Euro 2024: Five players who impressed in the Round of 16

The quarter-final lineup at Euro 2024 has been completed following the Round of 16 ties, with some unforgettable moments across the first knockout games.

Following the last-16 fixtures at Euro 2024, we’ve picked out five players who impressed.

Ruben Vargas – Switzerland

Switzerland sent a statement with an outstanding performance to dump out holders Italy. The Swiss were superb in their 2-0 win with Italy a firm second-best at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.

Ruben Vargas, who plays his club football in Germany with FC Augsburg, set up Remo Feuler for the opening goal with a clever assist before doubled Switzerland’s lead with a fantastic finish just 27 seconds into the second half. Given room to shoot, Vargas whipped a finish into the far corner to leave the Azzurri floored.

England have been warned ahead of their quarter-final clash this weekend.

Nico Williams – Spain

Spain have been the most impressive team in the tournament to date and Nico Williams has been at the centre of La Roja’s campaign. The 21-year-old’s blend of pace, power and skill have made him elite entertainment so far and he grew into the game against Georgia to have a decisive contribution.

Williams picked out Rodri for the equaliser after Spain fell behind to Robin Le Normand’s own goal, before scoring a solo effort to seal the 4-1 win. He ended the clash with a goal, assist, four key passes, and having failed to misplace a single pass (46/46) all evening.

At times he has been absolutely unplayable this summer.

Diogo Costa – Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe will be counting their blessings that Portugal have Diogo Costa in goal, with the shot-stopper bailing out his veteran teammates against Slovenia. Ronaldo wept after missing a penalty in extra time with the game goalless before Pepe’s mistake saw Benjamin Sesko race through one-against-one.

Costa came to the rescue with a huge save, as Portugal were taken to a shootout by their underdog opponent.

From there, the goalkeeper delivered a masterclass. The 24-year-old became the first player in Champions League history to save three consecutive penalties in 2022-23 and underlined his reputation as an expert from the spot against Slovenia.

The Porto goalkeeper saved all three Slovenia spot-kicks, denying Josip Ilicic, Jure Balkovec and Benjamin Verbic, to book Portugal a quarter-final with France. He’s the first goalkeeper to save three penalties in a European Championship shootout.

Cody Gakpo – Netherlands

Cody Gakpo continues to enhance his reputation as a big-game player for the Netherlands, with the Liverpool forward excelling at Euro 2024.

Gakpo announced his arrival with the national team with three goals at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and has been in the goals again this summer. The 25-year-old has three goals after opening the scoring in the 3-0 win over Romania, as the Dutch bounced back from an unconvincing group-stage performance to seal a place in the quarter-finals.

Gakpo cut inside and drilled in a low finish to beat Florin Nita at his near post before brilliant determination saw the winger keep alive a ball on the byline to set up Donyell Malen for the second goal. A threat all game, he led the contest for shots, shots on target and touches inside the opposition’s box.

Gakpo has rarely featured from the left wing at Liverpool but looks at home in a wide role for the Oranje this summer. Food for thought for new manager Arne Slot, with Gakpo the joint leader in the race for the Euro 2024 Golden Boot.

Merih Demiral – Turkey

Turkey are into the quarter-finals after Vincenzo Montella’s side beat Austria in the battle of the tournament dark horses. A thoroughly entertaining encounter saw Merih Demiral fire Turkey ahead inside just 57 seconds, as the centre-back slammed in after a goal-mouth scramble.

The 26-year-old added a second goal after meeting Arda Güler’s corner kick with a fine header, doubling his international goal return in one evening. At the other end, he was a colossal presence, racking up an astonishing 17 clearances, six aerial duels won and four blocks. The Al-Ahli defender will not forget his Austrian exploits in a hurry.

Read – Five defensive midfielders Premier League clubs are battling to sign

See more – Five early transfer deals you might have missed across Europe

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