Euro 2016 – Matchday One Review

We have come to the end of the first round of matches at Euro 2016 and the tournament has already offered us its fair share of surprises. Let’s now take a look back at matchday one.

PAYET ILLUMINATES PARIS, RUSSIA BREAK ENGLISH HEARTS

West Ham United midfielder Dimitri Payet struck a glorious winning goal for France against Romania in the opening game of the tournament, to give the hosts lift-off in their quest to win the trophy they last won 16 years ago. The following day, England made their entrance as they opened their group B account with a game against Russia in Marseille’s impressive Stade Velodrome. Roy Hodgson’s team controlled much of the game and looked to have sealed all three points when Spurs midfielder Eric Dier hit a sumptuous free-kick 17 minutes from time. But in stoppage time, defender and team captain Vasili Berazutski rescued a point for the Russian’s. Earlier in the day in the same section, Wales, led by the mercurial Gareth Bale, celebrated their first appearance in a major tournament for 50 years by beating Slovakia 2-1 in Bordeaux; now they head to Lens for the biggest game in the country’s history against England.

GERMANY EASE PAST UKRAINE, ITALY STUN BELGIUM

Pre-tournament favourites Germany got their campaign off to a comfortable start as they easily brushed aside Ukraine in Lille. Also in Group C, Poland gained a narrow 1-0 win against tournament new boys Northern Ireland. The first big surprise of Euro 2016 came on Monday night in Lyon when Italy upset the form-book by beating another of the favourites Belgium 2-0, thanks to goals from Emanuele Giaccherini and Graziano Pelle; Antonio Conte’s men are now quoted at *11.00 on the best online sports betting sites to win the trophy. Spain beat the Czech Republic 1-0 in Toulouse on Monday after totally dominating the 90 minutes; harder challenges await the defending champions.

 

SHOCKS GALORE IN GROUP F

On paper it looked like one of the least interesting of all the six tournament groups, but the reality was quite different as Group F became the “Group of Shocks”. First up came Hungary’s incredible 2-0 win over tournament dark horses Austria in Bordeaux, thanks to second-half goals from Ádám Szalai and Zoltán Stieber. Hungary goalkeeper Gábor Király also set a new record, becoming the oldest player (40) to take part in the finals. Later in the day it was time for Cristiano Ronaldo to make his entry as his Portugal team took on debutants and rank outsiders Iceland in Saint Etienne. CR7 had an off-night like the rest of his teammates, as the country with just over 300,000 inhabitants held the Portuguese to a 1-1 draw, despite the favourites taking a first-half lead through Nani. Ronaldo and his team now head to the capital where they will face Austria on Saturday in the Stade de France; the loser of that game, should there be one, could well be bidding an early farewell to the tournament.

*odds courtesy of Bet365

 

Steve Mitchell @barafundler

 

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