Yes, that’s right, the European Championships are back. However, this time it’s the younger generation that will be gracing the turf as eight teams battle it out for the prestigious cup, that Spain secured last year. It will last for one week and a bit, ending on the 15th of July.
So here is your recap of yesterday’s action, starting with last year’s champions Spain.
Greece 1-2 Spain
Spain kicked off their Euros adventure with a win following a tough victory over a promising, dangerous Greece side who were missing the talented duo of Dimitris Kourmpelis and Kostas Stafylidis.
Jese opened the scoring, with an accomplished finish as he rounded the goalkeeper of Greece and netted into the empty net. And it was Derik, who scored from a set-piece just before the interval to give Spain a healthy lead and 2-0 cushion heading into the second period.
However, the second half saw the Greeks fight back and Julen Lopetegui’s men grabbed one back through Dimitris Diamantakos but it was too late as the Spanish hung on to secure the three points.
Estonia 0-3 Portugal
In this other Group B tie, hosts Estonia were simply outplayed by a stylish, ruthless, classy Portugal team. An own goal from Estonia central defender Artur Pikk, a strike from midfielder Betinho and a sublime free-kick from Daniel Martins with 18 minutes to go sealed the win.
Portugal, who were also ruthless in the qualifying round as they finished top of Group 1 on 7 points ahead of Hungary, Faroe Islands and San Marino, are now top of Group A with Spain.
England 1-1 Croatia
It was a frustrating night for England, as they couldn’t edge out a resilient Croatian outfit. Noel Blake’s side had to settle with a point in the end, but must now take a win off Serbia on Friday to remain on track for progression to the quarter-finals and so on.
Chelsea midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah, who I remember impressing for the Blues in their pre season tour in Asia last season, netted after 60 minutes to draw the English on level terms following Domagoj Pavičić’s strike just 3 minutes earlier.
Serbia 0-3 France
There was never any doubt in this one. France were in full control for almost all of the encounter, and had the finishing abilities to supplement their delightful performance.
Pierre Mankowski’s side took the lead through Richard-Quentin Samnick, before highly rated defensive midfielder Paul Pogba – who has just recently put pen to paper with Italian side Juventus from Manchester United – swept home from the penalty spot.
And Thibaut Vion was on hand to complete the rout 6 minutes later, as France – who last won the Championships in 2010 – produced a magical display sending out a clear message of intent to all the other teams looking to clinch the trophy.