Under a scorching London sun, the Croats fell 1-0 to the English. Austria took a bigger lead against North Macedonia, in a match that ended 3-1. While the oranges achieved 3-2 at the end against Ukraine, in the closest match of the National Teams, this Sunday, June 13.
For the first time in 60 years, England claimed victory in their debut at the European Championship, after beating a timid Croatia 1-0. The goal was scored by Manchester City player Raheem Sterling following an assist from Leeds United compatriot Kalvin Phillips. The Three Lions took their revenge, after the Croats snatched the illusion of reaching the final of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
More than 22,000 fans were able to enjoy the continent’s most important International Team Tournament at Wembley. Those led by Britain’s Gareth Southgate were dominant in the first 20 minutes of play, achieving a 70% possession of the ball. However, it was difficult for them to achieve the goal in the rival goal even with two clear chances to score, with a shot from Foden and a shot from Phillips.
But the second half arrived and a spectacular play by Phillips allowed him to put the ball at the feet of Sterling, who in the 57th minute sentenced the match and later won the award for the best player of the game.
The goal was enough for England to position itself as the leader of Group D, taking advantage of a version of the Croats far removed from the one then in Russia. However, the Balkan technical director, Zlatko Dalić, does not lose hope and will look to score points on June 18 against the Czech Republic.
“We played against a powerful English team in their field, with their fans and the game was even most of the time. That is why this encourages me and I am optimistic,” he said at a press conference.
Southgate, England manager, was proud of the performance of his players. “It has been very nice to give our fans and our country an afternoon to enjoy. The players have dealt with such a great occasion very well. From the beginning, despite the incredible heat, they have played very well and settled into the game.” he said after the final whistle.
The English will look to extend the lead in the standings against Scotland next Friday.
Another novelty of the match was the debut of Jude Bellingham, 17 years and 349 days old, who became the youngest player to play a match at a European Championship. The Borussia Dortmund player made history after entering the field to replace Harry Kane.
Austria beat North Macedonia 3-1
The goals of Stefan Lainer, Michael Gegoritsch and Marko Arnautović served to give Austria the victory and position the team as the leader of Group C, against a North Macedonia that, despite everything, fought until the end. Only Goran Pandev scored in favor of the Balkans, leaving a result of 3-1.
An emotional Gregoritsch with tears in his eyes declared in an interview for the Austrian television ORF that “this goal is the best for me, it was a very difficult year for me. I dedicate this goal to all those who have believed in me, it was fantastic”.
The first goal was starred by Sabitzer and Lainer who were partners in the German RB Leipzig. Sabitzer assisted with a great cross to Lainer, who opened the scoring with a good definition. A dominance only truncated by the 37-year-old Pandev, who at that moment managed to equalize the score, becoming the second oldest player to score in a European Championship.
The Macedonian who plays in Italy today took advantage of an error by the Austrian goalkeeper, who complained of being fouled. However, his claim could not prevent the tie.
In the second half, the teams sought to outpace each other, while the tension intensified at the National Arena in Bucharest. The entry of Arnautović and Gregoritsch added confidence to an Austria that knew how to take advantage of the depth to the offensive game that both players contributed.
Gregoritsch finished with precision after a brilliant cross from David Alaba, recently signed from Real Madrid, making it 2-1 for Austria, while Arnautović ended up widening the distance after dribbling the Macedonian goalkeeper in the final minutes of the match.
Ukraine fell 2-3 to the Netherlands in a heart attack game
The Netherlands claimed their first win against a resilient Ukraine in the Euro, which returned to the tournament after a seven-year absence. The goals came in a second half in which the Dutch went ahead with two goals. Goals that the Ukrainians tied shortly after, without being able to finish the task. In the 85th minute, the locals ended up ruining their comeback.
The start of the match was hectic and the most prominent were striker Memphis Depay for the “clockwork orange” and goalkeeper Georgiy Bushchan for the Ukrainians. The support of the public at the Johan Cruyff Arena helped those led by Frank de Boer to open the scoring in the 7th minute of the second half.
Denzel Dumfries led a counter on the right and Bushchan’s poor clearance fell to the mercy of Georginio Wijnaldum – recent PSG signing – who took the opportunity to score the first goal of the game after eleven missed shots from his team.
Six minutes later the second goal would arrive, scored by Wout Weghorst, who surprised the rival goal with an unstoppable shot. And when Ukraine seemed to have ignored, came the goal of veteran Andriy Yarmolenko, after a spectacular aerial shot from the center oriented to the left of the goal by Maarten Stekelenburg, the second oldest Dutch player to play a game in this competition.
Yarmolenko’s goal, who requested the change after reducing the distance on the scoreboard, served to enliven his teammates, who tied the game two minutes later after a header from Roman Yaremchuk. Even with a resilient Ukraine, the Dutch refused to go down at home and a Denzel Dumfries header gave them a hard-fought victory in the end.
This result positioned the Netherlands as second in group C, while the Ukrainians were last. However, Ukraine coach Andriy Shevchenko was happy with his team’s performance.
“When you make a mistake, especially at the end, like the goal, you don’t have to collapse. We had a great reaction, we found energy to attack. The team was very good,” he said at a press conference after the match in Amsterdam. The Dutch will face Austria next Thursday again in Amsterdam and Ukraine will do the same against North Macedonia in Bucharest.