FAST START: Round-up of the first weekend of the Euros
PA - Bradley Collyer
The Euros has got underway with games coming thick and fast so we round-up the first weekend of the tournament.
It has been an emotional first few days as some of the pre-tournament favourites showed what they were made of, England and Wales played their first games and football was very drastically put into context.
Italy got the tournament kicked off against Turkey on Friday night and whilst many were expecting the Azzurri to have a tough game, they completely dominated the match to run out 3-0 winners in Group A.
It was the first time they had ever scored three goals or more in a European Championship Finals as first Domenico Berardi drove in a cross that was so powerful that Merih Demiral could only turn into his own net before Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne scored to put some well-deserved gloss on the result. Roberto Mancini’s men have been given the classic ‘dark horses’ tag and certainly lived up to that billing on Friday.
Meanwhile, on Saturday night, Belgium comfortably dealt with a pretty poor Russia side as former Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku grabbed two goals. Thomas Meunier also scored as they also recorded a 3-0 victory in Group B.
This was all despite being without star men Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City and Axel Witsel. Real Madrid’s Eden Hazard also only came on as a late second-half substitute whilst Leicester City’s full-back Timothy Castagne went off early with an injury.
The Netherlands produced the most entertaining game of the tournament so far when they played Ukraine. Ukraine are actually the top seeded team in Group C After a goalless first-half, ex-Liverpool midfielder Gini Wijnaldum converted for the Dutch after a goalkeeping error before Wout Weghorst doubled the lead.
Ukraine fought back with West Ham’s Andriy Yarmolenko scoring a superb goal from distance. Just four minutes later, they were level as Roman Yaremchuk headed an equaliser. The Netherlands scored a late winner though as Denzel Dumfries scored a header to give the Oranje a 3-2 win and an early advantage in Group C.
Home nations get results
Wales were probably second best against Switzerland in their opening Group A match but were able to get a point thanks to a Keiffer Moore equaliser after Breel Embolo had given the Swiss the lead. It means a win against Turkey in their next match will put them in a great position to qualify for the last 16.
England got their Euros off to the best possible start as they beat 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia 1-0. Raheem Sterling was the goal scorer as England won their first game at a European Championships for the first time ever in what, on paper, looks like the toughest opponent in Group D.
Football put into context
There was one incident which will probably live longest in the memory out of everything seen in the first weekend of the Euros and that was the frightening collapse of Denmark’s Christian Eriksen in their game against Finland. As he went to collect a throw-in on the stroke of half-time, Eriksen stumbled and went into cardiac arrest. He was immediately given CPR by Denmark captain Simon Kjaer before doctors were able to use a defibrillator to revive the former Spurs midfielder.
It is a timely reminder to everyone that football can sometimes feel the most important thing in the world. The reality is that it is probably the most important of the least important things. Luckily for Eriksen, he is now alive and stable in hospital
Credit to the Denmark team doctors, the referee and Eriksen’s Denmark team mates for the way they helped a man in his hour of need. Denmark players should also be credited for resuming the game 90 minutes later and no one can blame them for losing 1-0 given the circumstances.
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