In anticipation for the England match tonight, Low-Fell.com has been keeping an eye on the other teams this week.
Greece 1 – 2 Czech Republic
The Czech Republic were quick to break through the Greek defence and go two ahead thanks to goals from Jiracek (3′) and Pilar (6′). The Greeks didn’t really look threatening at all in the first half, with the exception of a goal disallowed for offside. It was a very generous call in favour of the Czech Republic and the Greek team have every right to be upset with the decision.
The second half opened with the Czechs controlling, however, following a goalkeeping howler from Petr Cech, the Greeks found themselves closing the gap as Gekas (53′) comfortably placed the fumbled ball in the back of the net. The match continued with few real chances created. Greece didn’t threaten enough to perform another comeback, which allowed the Czechs to see out the match and grab a vital three points. Greece now have a mountain to climb to stand a chance of qualifying for the knock-out rounds with Russia waiting for them in the final group game.
Poland 1 – 1 Russia
When fighting broke out amongst groups of Russian and Polish fans in Warsaw, it simply reminded us of the anger and emotion behind this fixture. Russian fans even unfurled a giant “This Is Russia” flag during the national anthems and violence was expected to flair up following the match, if not during.
Both teams knew that a win would put them in a commanding position going into the final group games.
Poland started brightly just as they did in their previous game against Greece and managed to get a few good crosses in, forcing the Russian keeper into action. By the half hour mark the Russians were starting to show promise, with one cross fizzing through the box, just out of reach of the Russian forwards. The deadlock was eventually broken when Dzagoev (37′) v got his head on the end of Arshavin’s cross. This gave Russia a half-time lead.
Not to be outdone, the Poles were straight out of the block after the break, creating chances right from the kick-off. Their persistence was rewarded when their captain, Blaszczykowski (57′), scored with a beautiful left-footed strike that flew into the top left corner from from 20 yards out. The home fans erupted in Warsaw.
Poland looked the more promising side for the rest of the game but won’t be disappointed with the result which leaves Group A down to the last matches on Saturday, with all teams mathematically capable of qualifying.
Denmark 2 – 3 Portugal
Denmark were hoping their dream start would continue, while Portugal knew they needed a win if they wanted to be in with a shout for progressing. Pepe quickly opened the scoring after putting a powerful header past the Danish keeper after 25 minutes. Just over ten minutes later the Portuguese side had doubled their lead following a close-range volley from Postiga. Denmark didn’t sit back and had narrowed the gap shortly after when Bendtner headed home.
The Danes kept pressing after the break and looked the more promising side. Their momentum eventually paid off with ten minutes left as Bendtner equalised with his second goal of the game. At this point Denmark certainly looked likely to collect a point, which would have left Portugal with one point from two games. Prior to the equaliser, Portugal should have taken a two-goal lead, but Ronaldo was wasteful in front of goal.
Unfotunately for the Danes, in the dying moments of the game Varela won the game for Portugal when he smashed in a right-footed shot. The result means both sides go into their final group match on three points.
Netherlands 1- 2 Germany
This fixture promised to be an entertaining match with two of the biggest rivals in international football squaring off. The Dutch were good going forward at the beginning of the game but continued being wasteful in front of goal. Van Persie was guilty of squandering a number of chances himself as the Dutch could not capitalise on some shoddy German defending.
Germany went ahead when Gomez scored in the 24th minute after a perfectly placed Schweinsteiger pass. Gomez swivelled on the ball after a fantastic first touch and finished with composure. A quarter of an hour later Gomez doubled the lead after making a run into the box and smacking the ball just inside the far left post. It was a good finish but Stekelenburg was certainly guilty of going down far too quickly.
After the half the Netherlands looked a different side as they looked to turn the game around. With twenty minutes remaining Van Persie showed us the quality that he’s capable of when he smashed in a superb strike from outside the box to raise the hopes of the travelling Oranje fans. The Dutch powered on but were unable to break down a tremendously organised Germany side, who eventually resorted to time-wasting tactics to run down the clock and, in typical German fashion, get the job done.
Italy 1 – 1 Croatia
Pirlo put the Italians ahead from a curling free-kick after 39 minutes. This was the first direct free-kick to be scored in the Euros since 2004. Italy kept putting crosses into the box but couldn’t convert chances into goals and ended the half with their 1-0 lead.
Croatia opened the second half brightly with Modric sending a flying shot whistling over the bar. Croatia were pushing for the equaliser and were rewarded for their efforts when Mandzukic rifled the ball in off both Buffon and the woodwork. Play was paused briefly when a flare made it onto the pitch and smoke made visibility poor.
Although Italy looked promising in the first half, the second half belonged to Croatia and both teams took away a point each, leaving Croatia with 4 points at the top of Group C.
Spain 4 – 0 Republic of Ireland
We all knew this was going to be a big ask of Ireland and it turned out to be the case. Spain settled comfortably into the game and scored early through Fernando Torres (4′). Spain passed the ball around with typical aplomb, keeping Ireland on the back foot.
Ireland became sloppy in their desperation and started flying in with a series of badly timed challenges as they struggled to keep up with the Roja’s technical ability. Despite their dominance, Spain struggled to break through the resolute and spirited Irish defence and the half ended 1-0.
Spain came out even stronger in the second half and got a second goal through David Silva. They continued to dominate and grabbed a third through Fernando Torres, who seems to be finding his feet at these Championships. Ireland’s hopes of making the knock-out phase were now all but gone, but that didn’t stop Spain from adding to their misery with a fourth goal through substitue Cesc Fabregas on 83 minutes.
The current World and European Champions are starting to build up some momentum. Everyone else should take note.