Croatia 2-2 Czech Republic – Late penalty earns Czechs unlikely draw
Croatia threw away a two-goal lead despite dominating for long periods of the game.
The telling moment came just after an hour’s play when Luka Modric was substituted with a slight injury. His departure with the score at 2-0 saw a switch in influence and performance from both Ivan Rakitic and Czech Republic.
Rakitic, scorer of the second goal, had far more successful passes and take ons in addition to his strike during the time Modric was on the pitch. His attacking third passes were 12 from 18 while the last half an hour saw the Barcelona player only manage two from six. Clearly Modric’s role as the incisive feeder from midfield will have a big impact on Croatia’s other star man.
The Czech’s meanwhile went on to score both their goals after Modric had left the field. The biggest change came in the success rate of their long balls with 20% for the first hour compared to 70.6% for the last 30-minutes. It was a long ball that led Mark Clattenburg to correctly award a penalty, which Tomas Necid emphatically converted with just a minute of normal time remaining.
Man of the Match: Ivan Rakitic – Top for shots, chances created and take ons. Took his goal very well.
Spain 3-0 Turkey – Spainful stuffing of Turkey
Vicente Del Bosque’s Spain controlled proceedings from start to finish in one the tournament’s most one-sided encounters.
The chances created in open play proved not only their dominance but also how well they restricted Turkey’s attack. Of the 13 chances created by Spain, eight were inside the area while Turkey only managed one from their six and that was right on the edge of the box.
One of the key players was Celta Vigo’s Nolito who managed to create four chances including the assist for Alvaro Morata’s opening goal. The Juventus forward actually benefitted from a more clinical performance in front of goal with two goals from his five attempts compared to zero from four against Petr Cech in their first game of the tournament.
Turkey, meanwhile, continued to disappoint with Arda Turan in particular coming in for criticism from his supporters. Over the two games he’s had one attempt at goal, created just one chance and failed to succeed with any of his passes into the oppositions box. The Turkey captain seems isolated and in lack of support as he tries to influence matters from wide areas. Bringing the Barcelona midfielder into a more central position may prove beneficial in their final game against Czech Republic.
Man of the Match: Nolito – One goal, one assist, created the most chances and recovered the joint second most balls. All despite looking like a failed pornstar.
Belgium 3-0 Republic of Ireland – Belgium’s trio turn up in comfortable win
Despite being level at half-time, Belgium outclassed the Irish with a strong second half performance from their key front men.
Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne in particular were influential as both playmakers switched from side to side throughout the game. De Bruyne created more chances (six) whilst Hazard recovered more balls. Both players provided an assist for Romelu Lukaku who proved that he has what it takes to lead the line.
Martin O’Neill was forced into one change from the Sweden draw with Jon Walters out injured. His replacement, Stephen Ward, didn’t have a particularly bad game but all of Belgium’s goals came from his side. The left-back’s Belgian compatriot, Jan Vertonghen, provided a superior defensive performance which included five clearances from inside his box. Ward was more effective with his passes into the box and ball recoveries, but he didn’t have one attempted clearance despite his side facing 25 crosses by Belgium compared to Ireland’s 21.
Putting Robbie Brady in front of Ward was understandable but Brady may well have been a better option for left-back like he was against Sweden given his pace. Two of Belgium’s three goals were a result of fast counter-attacks down Ireland’s left while only one chance was created from open play on Seamus Coleman’s side compared to Ward’s four – three of which were converted.
Man of the Match: Kevin De Bruyne – Created four more chances than any other player including the assist for Lukaku’s opening goal. The Man City attacked also succeeded with the third most tackles in the Belgium team
Sweden 0-1 Italy – Eder scores late winner in drab encounter
A game of few chances was decided by Brazilian born Eder in the 88th minute.
Italy’s qualification to the round of 16 was confirmed thanks to victory over an abject Sweden who failed to benefit from Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s ability. The Swedes are probably the side with the biggest gulf in quality between their star player and the rest of their squad in these championships. Their first two games have certainly proven as such, with Ibrahimovic even struggling for form, failing to hit the target against Italy.
Besides a lack of quality support or service, Ibrahimovic wasn’t allowed to succeed by Italy’s impressive defence with Giorgio Chiellini excelling. The Juventus defender was blocking crosses, clearing danger and intercepting balls while keeping Ibrahimovic at arms length throughout.
Italy look best off playing against stronger opposition though their squad depth will likely be on show in their final Group E fixture against Republic of Ireland.
Man of the Match: Giorgio Chiellini – Won the most free-kicks, second for ball recoveries as well as being top for blocked crosses and interceptions. He also showed quick thinking to help assist Eder for his match-winning goal.
Portugal 0-0 Austria – Ronaldo off target in goalless draw
Much to the delight of nearly everyone in Europe outside of Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo failed to score from ten attempts for the second game running, including a 79th minute penalty miss. His record for the tournament stands at 20 attempts, four on target, no goals.
The Real Madrid forward was rightly criticised for his comments after the Iceland draw making him about as likeable as a stubbed toe against a milkless fridge on a rainy Monday.
Portugal’s standout player was William Carvalho who managed to keep David Alaba very quiet during the 65 minutes he was on the pitch. Carvalho was the link between defence and attack whilst the eight of his nine ball recoveries that took place in his half went a long way to explaining why Austria only had four attempts to Portugal’s 23.
The two favourites from Group F now need to win their final games in order to qualify for the next round.
Man of the Match: William Carvalho – Most passes and ball recoveries in a controlling display by the Sporting Lisbon midfielder who deserves to start against Hungary.
Iceland 1-1 Hungary – Iceland’s own goal denies first win
A romantic story involving ice could still end happily even if Kate Winslett’s selfishness does try and ruin this one too. But Iceland’s fairytale could have been so much better had they held on for the win against Hungary.
Despite having only 29% possession, Iceland still created two big chances compared to their opponents’ zero. So it was obviously frustrating to see Birkir Saevarsson put the ball into his own net in the 88th minute. Unfortunately for Saevarsson, it couldn’t really be avoided such was the quality of the ball across goal.
Hungary meanwhile had far more attempts at goal (12) but only three were from inside the area, none of which hit the target. In contrast, all but one of Iceland’s eight attempts at goal were from inside the 18-yard box.
The Hungarians are almost certain to qualify given they now have four points from two games and a plus-two goal difference.
Man of the Match: Tamas Kadar – Heavily involved despite being a left-back. Kadar had the most passes and ball recoveries (five more than second place) as well as winning all four of his defensive aerial duels.