- Spain delivered a power packed thumping performance, with two goals from Arsenal and Chelsea target Alvaro Morata, against a lackluster Turkish side.
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic, heavily courted by Manchester United, failed to register himself on the scoresheet against Italy.
- Croatia may have jeopardised their qualification hopes by squandering what looked like an unassailable lead, after remarkably skillful display by FC Barcelona’s Rakitic
With the second round of Euros well and truly underway, the teams are looking to gain a significant ground in their respective groups with France already wrapping up six points and Germany sharing spoils with Poland, despite being group favourites. The Hard Tackle looks at the matches that took place last night.
ITALY vs SWEDEN
Italy are somewhat notorious for serially underperforming in their respective second matches in big competitions, an aspect which had made them pay in recent years after being dumped out of the group stages back to back in the last two world cups. In fact, last night’s 1-0 win courtesy of a wonderful goal from Eder gave Italy their first win in the second match of a big competition (Euro or World Cup), since the 2000s.
For most of the match it looked like Italy’s flying start to the competition after beating Belgium 2-0 would soon be forgotten after their underwhelming display against Sweden in which Conte’s side lacked the final product in front of the goal despite a string of half chances.
In an otherwise dull game, that came to life in the 88th minute when the Swedish team found themselves on the receiving end of a long Chielini throw in, which found substitute Simone Zaza who did exceptionally well to chest the ball down and lay it off at the feet of the onrushing Eder, who ran past 4 Swedish defenders, who looked completely dumbfounded as he put the ball into the net with a well taken low shot.
Rightly the the Italian coach remarked that they “are very pleased” and “(v)ery few people would have envisaged us making the last 16 after just two matches and a number of people questioned if we would even get through the group.” (via The Guardian)
CROATIA vs CZECH REPUBLIC
The game at the Stade Geoffroy Guichard will be known for how Croatia surrendered a 2 goal lead after a bizarre display of fan violence from Croatian supporters despite their team being in the lead and in control of the game.
The remarkably skillful displays of Perisic and Rakitic that led to the goals on the 37th and 59th minute were forgotten as flairs rained down on the pitch with just 14 minutes remaining and Croatia in control with a 2-1 lead. Croatian supporters joined the long list of hooligans from English, Russians, Northern Irish and Ukrainian fans who have caused local authorities in France a tremendous amount of inconvenience.
It all fell apart one by one for Ante Cacic’s men, when as many as 15 flairs flew on the pitch, one of them falling dangerously close an exploding next to a steward who was attending to them on the pitch. Referee Mark Clattenberg called a halt as a Croatian PA pleaded the small group of fans who orchestrated the incident as a sign of protest to “leave the stadium and don’t embarrass our country”.
The incident was highly condemned by Croatian footballers, but Barcelona midfielder Raktic was reluctant to use it as an excuse for the eventual outcome – “It would be stupid to find an excuse after the match was stopped and I don’t want to do it, but it’s clear, it’s happened before.” (via The Guardian)
Soon after the restart though Clattenberg pointed to the spot as defender Domagoj Vida brought down an aerial ball with his hand, which led to a Czech penalty. Tomas Necid made no mistake from the spot-kick in the dying seconds of the match, keeping Czech in the tournament after their dismal opening game against Spain.
SPAIN vs TURKEY
If two-time winners were found unconvincing against the Czech in their opening match, with Juve striker Morata missing a set of chances, Spain were thoroughly convincing as they outshone and outclassed a Turkey side led by Calhanoglu and Arda Turan who failed to deliver the goods a second time in a row.
The Turkey team which lacks a spine according to coach Faith Terim, for “throwing in the towel” will face a Czech side who will have gotten a morale boost from their late draw against Croatia. The Turks were picked apart by Spain’s central strikers as Nolito added a second goal from a beautifully taken free kick to add to
The Turks were picked apart by Spain’s central strikers as Nolito added a second goal from a beautifully taken free kick to add to Morata’s opener. Shortly after the second half resumed, Morata added a third goal pouncing on for a tap in from a Jordi Alba cross. Spain joins France and Italy as the only teams yet to have added 6 points from their opening two games to their tally as they meet Croatia next for the showdown in the final game.
Spain joins France and Italy as the only teams yet to have added 6 points from their opening two games to their tally as they meet Croatia next for the showdown in the final game.