The first week of the Euro’s is over and what a week it has been. We have seen goals, penalties, red cards and of course poor refereeing. Poland and Greece kicked off the Euro’s in a game that saw two red cards, a saved penalty and an array of missed chances by both countries. Poland opened the scoring thanks to Borussia Dortmund’s Robert Lewandowski on the 17th minute. The referee didn’t want to be left out of the highlights of the opening game and made sure people would be talking about him when he sent of Sokratis Papastathopoulos for two very dubious yellow cards. Lets be honest there was only probably one bookable offence out of the two. The first half was Poland’s and could have had the chance to score more and in the end were left to rue their missed chances and in the second half Szczęsny had a shocking time. He was at fault for the equalizer when he came for the cross but was nowhere near reaching it and then 18 minutes later saw red for tripping the Greek attacker. With Szczęsny off on came PSV’s Przemysław Tytoń. Greece’s Captain Giorgos Karagounis stepped up to take the penalty but it wasn’t the best of penalties and Tytoń saved it. In the end the game ended 1-1 but Poland missed chances in the first half and Samaras’ terrible display of a striker will be something he and Greece will be looking to forget.
The second game of the day saw the two remaining countries, Russia and the Czech Republic, faced off against each other. It is fair to say that people were expecting a tight game and not the 4-1 rout that Russia produced but in the end it was a game and a score line that Russia deserved. Arshavin and CSKA Moscow’s Alan Dzagoev were two players that made Russia ticked with Dzagoev grabbing two gaols and Arshavin helping out with two assists. Russia got off to a good start when Dzagoev opened the scoring on the 15th minute and then Zenit’s Roman Shirokov scored on the 24th minute. In the second half it looked like the Czech Republic were going to get back into the game when Wolfsburg’s Václav Pilař pulled one back but that didn’t start the come back, if anything it made Russia go on the attack more. Alan Dzagoev got his second and Russia’s 3rd on the 79th minute and Substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko got Russia’s 4th on the 82nd minute. Cech didn’t have the best of games for the Czech Republic and on another day could have helped get a better result than what they ended up with.
Day two saw the first shock of the tournament when Denmark stunned everyone, not for the first time in the Euro’s history, when the beat Holland 1-0 that’s to Brøndby’s Krohn-Dehli goal on the 24th minute. The goal was a combination of poor defending and a good finish. Holland tried to do as much as possible to score but to no avail. Robben was pretty wasteful with 6 shots not hitting the target.
The other game of the day saw Germany get of to a wining start beating Portugal 1-0 thanks to Mario Gomez. The goal game just as Joachim Löw was getting ready to take Gomez off and bring on Germany goal scoring machine Miroslav Klose. It just didn’t look like Germany were going to get the goal but they kept knocking on the door. To be fair the game could have gone either way but in the end it was the Germans managed to get the goal and the win.
Italy v Spain was a good game and a fair result. Both teams had chances but we had to wait until the second half when Di Natale came on for Balotelli. I felt that Balotelli was doing a better job than Cassano and would have rathered he had stayed on but Italy needed Di Natale and it only took him five minutes to score. I could very well see him being the tournaments top goal scorer obviously depending on how far Italy go as he is a goal machine. Spain didn’t take long to bring the goal level with Fabregas scored only 3 minutes later. Cesc came off for Torres but was unable to make an impact. Buffon stifled Torres and stole the ball off him and with another chance shot over when it seemed that he was going to score. Both Italy and Spain will be happy with the draw but will be looking to win their remaining two games.
The evening match saw the republic of Ireland have a shocking night with Shay Given in particular having a night to forget. Much was made of Giovanni Trapattoni’s Republic of Ireland’s defence but in the end it fell apart. Croatia took the lead early on the 3rd minute when Wolfsburg’s Mario Mandžukić headed home. The Republic of Ireland didn’t waste time on levelling the game when Sean St. Ledger scored a header of his own on the 19th minute but it wasn’t a lead they were able to keep. Just before half time Everton’s Nikica Jelavić scored although there was a suspicion of offside but ultimately it was some poor defender and their inability to clear the ball effectively. Croatia got their third with some luck as Mario Mandžukić’s header hit the post but it rebounded out only to hit Shay Given and then go in. I am sure Given is happy for it not to be given as an own goal, but technically it is. Given really didn’t shine and was at fault with the first goal as his positioning could have been better. Trappattoni made changes but it wasn’t effective and the game finished with Croatia earning an emphatic 3-1 win.
Finally after seeing nearly everyone else play it was England’s turn and although the country was not expecting the excitement had grown. The game started well and Both England and France started brightly with both countries having their chances but England struck first with Joleon Lescott heading home Gerrrad’s free kick. The lead only lasted nine minutes as Manchester City’s Samir Nasri scored past his team mate, Joe Hart, beating him from a shot just outside the box beating him at the near post. Newcastle’s Cabaye was instrumental in most of France’s attacks while England played on the counter with Welbeck, Young and Oxlade-Chamberlain being their outlet. It was a good game with Ribéry, Debuchy, Benzema stand outs for France and in fairness there was only one person on the pitch that was having a bad game and that was the Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli. I am sure the French Media though won’t be saying that. Some late substitutions happened but too late as neither countries substitutes found themselves enough time to be influential enough to change the game.
The last game of the week saw co-hosts Ukraine face Sweden. Well the old adage of a game of two halves was never truer than with this game. For the first 30 minutes the game was rather dull but in the last 15mins it picked up but no one was upset to see the half time whistle but the second half sprang the game to life. Sweden took the lead on the 52nd minute through their Captain Zlatan Ibrahimović thanks to a nice tap in, but the Ukraine fans and players felt aggrieved that play was stopped for their injured player. This injustice only seemed to spur on the Ukraine and thanks to their living legend and Captain Andriy Shevchenko they were level in 3 minutes. It was a great header but not long after he was at it again this time scoring a beautiful header that crept in at the near post. From the corner Shevchenko, who was being marked by Ibrahimović, ran round his marker to gain his advantage to head it home. The ‘keeper wont be happy to be beaten at his near post especially with a man on the post also. Shevchenko came off to a huge roar of appreciation from the Ukraine fans who know this is his last horary for the Country. Dnipro’s Yevhen Konoplyanka also had a great game for the Ukraine and with a move rumoured to the Premiership he didn’t do anything to harm his chances also the club will be happy if they do sell as he will have added to his value. In the end it was a great comeback and a great win for the Ukraine giving France and England something to worry about.