Euro 2016: Matchday 2 in Group D

Cormac O'DonnellEuropean Championship0 Comments

Spain secured qualification against Turkey, whilst the Czech Republic staged an amazing comeback against Croatia in yet another game marred by crowd troubles.

Crowd trouble dominates an otherwise thrilling encounter. Courtesy: skysports.com

Crowd trouble dominates an otherwise thrilling encounter. Courtesy: skysports.com

Czech Republic 2-2 Croatia

Focusing on football, Czech Republic and Croatia delivered the most entertaining game of Euro 2016 so far. Croatia began with their usual flare but struggled to trouble Petr Cech in goal until, late in the half, some tricky footwork from Ivan Perisic created room for the Croatia midfielder to curl the ball into the far corner.

The Czech Republic showed more intent in the second half, although Ivan Rakitic looked to have sealed the win for Croatia after a cheeky chip over Petr Cech. Substitute Marvin Skoda was the driving force in the Czech comeback, rising to plant a header in the top corner.

Ugly scenes deflected from an excellent game when Mark Clattenburg was forced to stop the match due to flares being thrown on to the pitch, with one exploding in the vicinity of Ivan Perisic. Croatia fans may have cost their team the win as a lapse in concentration resulted in a last minute penalty, converted by Thomas Necid, to make it 2-2.

Czech Republic Verdict: 6.5/10 (⇑0.5)

A poor first half performance prevented a higher rating for the Czech Republic. After being dominated for three quarters of the game, they burst into life and took advantage of confusion in the Croatian ranks. They will require a more consistent performance against Turkey if they are to make this lifeline count.

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Croatia Verdict: 7/10 (⇓2)

Croatia looked as impressive as they did against Turkey for the first 75 minutes. They will be bitterly disappointed to have let the game slip so late as they now face a high pressure game against the holders Spain. They can likely expect some form of UEFA sanction for the self-destructive behaviour of their fans.

Morata responds to his critics. Courtesy: theguardian.com

Morata responds to his critics. Courtesy: theguardian.com

Spain 3-0 Czech Republic

It wasn’t only Spain’s kit that looked reminiscent of 2008 as they brushed aside Turkey with ease. Despite dominating their previous game, their lack of penetration was criticized. Alvaro Morata was particularly out for redemption.

Turkey looked out of their depth from the start and would fail to muster a shot on target. Nolito made up for his inefficient play against the Czechs as his pinpoint cross was converted expertly by Juventus’ Morata. From here it was cruise control for the holders.

Only moments later, a poor headed clearance dropped invitingly to Nolito on the penalty spot whose improvised finish found the bottom corner. The offside run of Jordi Alba went unpunished, leaving Morata an open net for his second goal of the game. Spain can relax in their final game with automatic qualification confirmed.

Spain Verdict: 9/10 (⇑2)

Spain showed real title challenging form. Whilst not as adventurous and exciting as Croatia, the dominating style of Spain is impressive in its own unique way. They never lost control for a moment, dispatching Turkey with German-like efficiency. We now await a mouthwatering clash against Croatia.

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Turkey Verdict: 5/10 (⇓1) 

Most teams would have struggled to keep up with Spain in this one. The main criticism that will be leveled at Turkey will be how their heads dropped after the first goal. More character will be required if they are to overcome a Czech Republic side who showed plenty of fight against Croatia.

How Things Stand

  Played Goal Difference Points
Spain 2 +4 6
Croatia 2 +1 4
Czech Republic 2 -1 1
Turkey 2 -4

Spain secured qualification but a win for Croatia in the final match will demote them to second-spot. Czech Republic’s last minute draw means that they could potentially leapfrog Croatia if results go their way. Only a win will be good enough for Turkey and even then they cannot guarantee qualification.

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