Euro 2016: Matchday 2 in Group E

Cormac O'DonnellEuropean ChampionshipLeave a Comment

Ireland fans remained bouyant despite a thrashing at the hands of Belgium. Italy squeezed past Sweden to secure automatic qualification.

Eder celebrates his late winner against Sweden. Courtesy:

Eder celebrates his late winner against Sweden. Courtesy:

Italy 1-0 Sweden

Italy followed up a phenomenal win over Belgium with a nervy encounter against Sweden. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s effortless weekly stroll in Ligue 1 has not prepared him for the step up in quality that Italy’s impervious defence brings. Italy will be disappointed with a flat performance but delighted overall as qualification is secured rather easily.

The game passed both sides by in the first half, the only highlight being the blinding support of the yellow shirts in the crowd. Pelle, who opened the scoring against Belgium, was eventually substituted after failing to threaten. It wasn’t until eight minutes from time that a goal seemed likely, a Parolo header slamming off the bar from a Giaccherini cross.

To the relief of Ireland fans everywhere, Simone Zaza brought the ball down for Eder who proceeded to run the defence and rifle the ball into the bottom corner. The win secures top-spot for Italy who can afford to take it easy in the final group game.

Italy Verdict: 7/10 (⇓2) 

Italy remained in control but lost that incisive edge they showed against Belgium. As a team famous for slow group-stage performances, Italy will not be too worried about building momentum later in the tournament.

Sweden Verdict: 5/10 (⇑1) 

An improvement from their game against Ireland but still hugely uninspiring. They have been labeled as a one-man team and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic failing to perform, Sweden have been virtually non-existent at Euro 2016.

Lukaku breaks Irish resolve early in the second half. Courtesy:

Lukaku breaks Irish resolve early in the second half. Courtesy:

Belgium 3-0 Ireland

Ireland held Belgium with little issue in the first half, looking likely to build on their positive opening game against Sweden, whilst Belgium remained in frustrated form after their decisive defeat at the hands of Italy.

  Euro 2016: Matchday 2 in Group C

The Irish will be disappointed with the manner in which they conceded each of the three goals. Early in the second half Everton’s Romelu Lukaku converted an easy pass from Kevin DeBruyne who ran uncontested down the wing. Ireland managed to steady the ship but on the 61st minute, Axel Witsel won an uncontested header which Darren Randolph will feel he should have dealt with better.

It was Lukaku who killed the game less than ten minutes later when Ciaran Clarke recklessly dived at Eden Hazard who easily sidestepped the tackle, gliding down the wing to deliver an easy pass for Lukaku to slide the ball into an open net.

Belgium Verdict: 8/10 (⇑1)

A much more concise performance from the Belgians. After 45 minutes Ireland stood resilient but once Belgium got going they completely outclassed the Irish who had no answers to the skill of Kevin DeBruyne and Eden Hazard. Questions will remain as to whether Belgium can perform like this against the major sides.

Ireland Verdict: 5.5/10 (⇓1.5)

A solid first-half performance was horribly let down by some outrageous defensive decisions. Ciaran Clarke in particular showed himself to be well out of his depth for a second game running. A bad 45 minutes won’t deflate Irish spirits too much. A final game against Italy offers the Irish a final chance of redemption.

  Played Goal Difference Points
Italy 2 +3 6
Belgium 2 +1 3
Sweden 2 -1 1
Ireland 2 -3 1


Italy have already secured top spot for Group E. A point will be enough to secure automatic qualification for Belgium whilst a win is required from both Sweden and Ireland if they are to have any hope of qualifying.

Leave a Reply