The fun and games all started on the 8th June, since then there’s been a lot of football played, it hasn’t all been pretty … but it’s got us hooked.
And they’re off
It all started with co-hosts Poland taking on Greece, the Greeks look very poor in the first half and they found themselves 1-0 down after the highly rated Robert Lewandowski headed home. Like their economy, things went from bad to worse for them when Socratis Papastathopoulos was harshly sent-off in the 44th minute – It looked like there was only going to be one winner.
We don’t know what Fernando Santos said to his troops, but Greece came out a different team, they equalized through Dimitris Salpingidis after some poor goalkeeping from Wojciech Szczesny.
The substitute keeper was Przemyslaw Tyton, his first job was to face Giorgos Karagounis’ penalty – much to Szczesny’s relief he saw his replacement save the spot kick. The game finished 1-1, the Poles were relieved that they managed to get a point, but at the back of their minds, they must have known the game should’ve been killed off in the first half.
Later that evening Russia set the benchmark as they beat Czech Republic 4-1, the star man was Alan Dzagoev, he grabbed a brace and looked like a real star with an interesting future ahead of himself.
In the second set of games Russia faced Poland, Dzagoev got his third of the tournament before Lewandowski equalized in the second half.
Meanwhile Czech Republic came back from their opening nightmare to beat Greece 2-1, the Greeks even subbed their keeper in the first half after conceding two early goals.
Group of Death
In every competition there is always a ‘Group of Death’, and this time round it was no different – early favourites Germany were paired with ‘old friends’ Netherlands, Ronaldo’s Portugal and Denmark.
The big talking point was Denmark shocking the Dutch 1-0, despite the losing side dominated the game, but Michael Krohn-Delhi’s first half goal was enough. Whilst Robin van Persie is unstoppable in the EPL he has struggled to impress in the famous orange shirt.
Portugal beat Denmark 3-2, they had thrown away a two goal lead, but Silvestre Varela managed to score a late winner, which left both clubs on three points.
Irish first to go
Irish fans had waited ten years to feature in a major Championship, and were optimistic they would progress, unfortunately that all changed after three minutes when they Mario Mandzukic’s header beat Shay Given. The boys in green got back into it through Sean St Ledger, but some more shocking defending in the second-half saw them lose 3-1.
The second game was even worse, they played holders Spain, who went 1-0 up after four minutes through Fernando Torres. The Irish rarely got the ball, and when they did they gave it straight back to the Spaniards. In the second-half David Silva made it 2-0, before Chelsea striker Torres got his second and the team’s third, before Cesc Fabregas scored after coming off the bench.
With no points after two games, Trap’s men were eliminated.
The rest of the group is very interesting, Croatia have impressed everyone and take on Spain in the last game with both sides on four points, whilst Italy have two and face the Irish – this group could well go down to goal difference.
Going to the wire
England are looking better than most expected, whilst they aren’t looking the best at the back, going forward was positive last time out. In the opener, Roy’s boys only managed one shot and luckily Joleon Lescott’s header from Stevie G’s cross went in!!! Samir Nasri managed to beat City teammate Hart from distance, some say the English keeper should’ve done better, but in reality it was a class effort.
The second game was a real roller coaster ride, England went 1-0 up through Andy Carroll – it was the Liverpool striker’s first goal for his country. Olof Mellberg scored twice in quick succession to give the Swedes a 2-1 lead, Theo Walcott was sent on in the 60th minute and four minutes later his shot from outside the area shocked Isaksson to equalize.
Then in the 78th minute Walcott broke down the right and pulled the ball across the goal, somehow Danny Welbeck managed to flick the ball past the Swedish keeper and give England a 3-2 lead – They managed to hold on to win, thus sending Ibrahimovic and his team home.
If England win or draw against Croatia then they will progress, Roy will be hoping Sweden get a result against France to avoid Spain in the next round.