Euro 2020 has been well worth the wait! There have been thrills, drama, and goals galore so far in this tournament. As of today, all 24 teams have played their first match; the first matchday is complete. Are the favorites off to a good start? Are there any surprises? In this recap, we will be looking back at Matchday 1 of Euro 2020!
Matchday 1 of Euro 2020
The first matchday for the teams in any tournament is full of emotion and nerves. Often times the first group stage match can tell a lot about what teams will look like in a competition. This was definitely the case in Euro 2020. Without further ado here’s a look back at how the teams started their Euro 2020 campaign!
In Group A, Turkey and Italy squared off, while Wales took on Switzerland. After the first matchday one of these nations stands atop the group, two took a point, and one dropped to the bottom of the standings.
Turkey is thumped by Italy
The first match of Euro 2020 was an interesting affair between high-flying Italy and dark-horse Turkey. It was clear in the first half that both teams were feeling the other out. There was a lot of back and forth, but no clear-cut chances for either side to find an opening goal. That changed in the second half.
Italy found the opening goal through its own goal. This opened the floodgates as Italy scored two more goals in the following thirty minutes. The second half was all Italy, Turkey was stunned by the own goal they conceded and couldn’t get back in the match after Italy’s second goal. Italy looks like a legit contender to win Group A.
- Merih Demiral | Turkey | 53′ (OG for Italy)
- Ciro Immobile | Italy | 66′
- Lorenzo Insigne | Italy | 79′
Wales and Switzerland split points
Wales and Switzerland met to conclude Group A’s matchday one play. The Welsh were favored to dominate the proceedings of this match, but the opposite happened in the first half. Switzerland had the majority of possession and had the better attacking spells in the opening half. The match went to the half with the Swiss on top.
Early in the second half, Switzerland found their breakthrough from a corner. They deservingly led but had the majority of the second half to hold that lead. As the game went on, Wales became more desperate. In the last 15 minutes, they were able to find an equalizer. A short corner routine worked to get a good cross into the box and resulted in a tying goal. At the final whistle, both teams split the points, and both set themselves up for success moving forward.
- Breel Embolo | Switzerland | 49′
- Kieffer Moore | Wales | 74′
Group B saw Denmark and Finland go head to head, and Belgium took on Russia. There is one clear favorite in this group, and they got all three points. A shocking side also got three points from their match.
Denmark fall to Finland, but life is the real winner
This match was meant to be dominated by Denmark, but Finland gave them a run for their money. The first half was a constant transition of both teams attacking. As the match was about to go into halftime, a disaster occurred. Denmarks Christian Eriksen collapesed on the field. He needed CPR and a defibrillator to be administered as he went into cardiac arrest. About 10 minutes later he was taken off the field and was awake and gave a thumbs up to the crowd. The match was temporarily suspended, but only hours later both teams resumed play in the second half.
Eriksen asked his teammates to continue without him as he was rushed to a local hospital. Both teams returned to the pitch with tears in their eyes, it was clear this one should have been postponed longer. Nevertheless, the game went on. Finland was on the backfoot but scored the opener against the run of play. Later on, Denmark had a chance to tie through a penalty but it was poorly taken and was saved. Finland won the match, but life was the true winner here.
- Joel Pohjanpalo | Finland | 60′
Belgium best Russia
Belgium is the favorites to win Group B, Russia is a scrappy underdog who rode a home-field advantage in the 2018 World Cup far into the knockout rounds. Would this one be a match where the two went toe-to-toe? No, it was not. Belgium scored early in the 10th minute and didn’t look back. They scored their second 14 minutes later and took a 2-0 lead to halftime.
In the second half, the game was still all Belgium. Russia could not put a play together and looked outclassed on the pitch. Belgium added a third goal late on to cruise to a 3-0 opening match win.
- Romelu Lukaku | Belgium | 10′, 88′
- Thomas Meunier | Belgium | 34′
Group C is filled with teams that are ranked close to one another. To start the group-play off. Austria played North Macedonia, while the Netherlands faced off with Ukraine!
Austria thrash North Macedonia
Austria had never won at the Euros before, while North Macedonia was making its first appearance in the group stage. This match was open and fun. Austria opened the scoring in the first half, and the debutants equalized before halftime. The game was so back and forth, it seemed like it had more goals in it.
In the second half, this proved true Austria found two more goals in the final 12 minutes of the game. North Macedonia showed well but didn’t have the legs late on in the match to secure a point from the game.
- Stefan Lanier | Austria | 18′
- Goran Pandev | North Macedonia | 28′
- Michael Gregoritsch | Austria | 78′
- Marko Arnautović | Austria | 89′
Netherlands come back on Ukraine
Netherlands and Ukraine played a wild match with many twists and turns and little defense. In the first half, both sides were eying each other and didn’t get great attacking looks. That changed in the second half.
The Netherlands found the opening goal under 10 minutes into the second half. Five minutes after they found their first Netherlands got a second goal. However, Ukraine didn’t back down. 17 minutes later Ukraine pulled one back. Then four minutes after that, they equalized. It looked like the match was headed to an exciting 2-2 draw, but the Netherlands wouldn’t let it. With only five minutes left in the game, the Netherlands found the winning goal in a thrilling 3-2 game.
- Georginio Wijnaldum | Netherlands | 52′
- Wout Weghorst | Netherlands| 75′
- Andriy Yarmolenko | Ukraine | 79′
- Roman Yaremchuk | Ukraine | 89′
- Denzel Dumfries | Netherlands| 85′
Group D has two top-class teams and two other teams hungry for a chance to stand out. The two top-class teams, England and Croatia met, while the two looking to stand out, Scotland and the Czech Republic went toe-to-toe.
England edge Croatia
England and Croatia met in the 2018 World Cup semifinals. Croatia was victorious that day, but would they be able to do it again in the 2020 Euros? In the first half, England dominated the game and made Croatia chase. There were no first-half goals, but it was clear one side was better on the day.
England seemed calm, cool, and collected in this match. Just after 10 minutes into the second half that mentality paid off with the game’s only goal. After the goal, England played lockdown defense. They secured a clean sheet and their first-ever win on Matchday one at any European Championship.
- Raheem Sterling | England | 57′
Scotland stunned by Czech Republic
Both Scotland and the Czech Republic are nations looking to stand out in Euro 2020. Their first match was an indication that they can do just that. Scotland came out blazing. They controlled most of the first half but were unable to find a crucial goal. The Czech Republic found a goal just before halftime against the run of play. They took the lead into halftime.
As the game moved into the second half, it seemed as though a second goal would come. It did seven minutes into the half as Czech Republic striker Patrik Schick took a chance just across half-field. His effort found the keeper in a bad position and went in. The Czech Republic was up 2-0 and they held that lead to win the match!
- Patrik Schick | Czech Republic | 42′, 52′
In Group E there are some sleeping giants and some underdogs. The underdogs, Poland and Slovakia went at it, while the sleeping giants, Spain and Sweden seemed to stay asleep.
Poland fall to Slovakia 2-1
Poland and Slovakia are underdogs in Group E. They came together and produced a very entertaining match. Slovakia was the benefits of an own goal just under 20 minutes into the game. They controlled the rest of the half with their stellar defensive shape. However, that was put to the test at the beginning of the second half.
One minute into the second half, Poland equalized! It was a relief but was short-lived. 16 minutes later Poland was down to 10 men after a second yellow was issued to Grzegorz Krychowiak. This was the turning point in the tied match. Slovakia poured on their attack, but it was a set-piece that would provide their breakthrough. A 69th-minute goal put Slovakia up, and their defense did well to hold onto all three points!
- Wojciech Szczęsny | Poland | 18′ (OG for Slovakia)
- Karol Linetty | Slovakia | 46′
- Milan Škriniar | Slovakia | 69′
Spain and Sweden split points
Spain and Sweden have been staples in European football in years past. At Euro 2020, they were the only two sides to draw nil-nil on matchday one. Spain dominated this match, especially the first half, while Sweden sat back. There was no lethal attack from either side in the first half.
In the second there was more of the same. Spain controlled the play, but Sweden repelled their chances. The best chance of the game ironically came to Sweden in the second half; they missed an open net after some nice build-up play. The match would end 0-0, leaving a lot to be desired for both of these strong teams.
Group F has been labeled the group of death. With three major contenders and an up-and-coming side, it’s no wonder this group was saved as the best for last. Hungary took on Portugal, while France faced Germany.
Hungary halted by Portugal’s three goals
Up-and-coming side Hungary got the honor to play reigning European champions Portugal in their first Euro 2020 match. It was clear that Portugal was the better team in the first half, but Hungary hung in there keeping the score 0-0 all the way to halftime.
In the second half, it was clear that Portugal was desperate for a goal. They committed numbers forward, which Hungary exploited on a few counterattacks. At one point Hungary put the ball in the back of the net, but the lead-up play was offside so their effort was rendered null and void. After that moment, Portugal netted three times in the last seven minutes to take all three points from this match.
- Raphaël Guerreiro | Portugal | 84′
- Cristiano Ronaldo | Portugal | 87′ (P), 90+2′
France beat Germany off of own goal
The match that might have been the most anticipated one of matchday one was France vs Germany. These teams are European giants, but this match didn’t showcase that too much. It was clear that it would be a back-and-forth match, but it was very unlikely that anyone saw an own goal coming to give France the lead. Germany gifted that to France in the 20th minute, and then it was smooth sailing for the French.
In the second half, Germany pushed, but their attack lacked any real bite. They were disorganized in the final third while France’s organization defensively shows why they are one of the favorites to win this tournament. The final match of matchday one was a bit anticlimactic, but it was a masterclass in tactics and players executing at a high level.
- Mats Hummels | Germany | 20′ (OG for France)
Matchday 2 begins now!
The second matchday begins today, June 16th, and runs until Saturday, June 19th! This is where the teams who have momentum can add to it; possibly punching their tickets to the knockout rounds. It also is a chance for the team who are mentally strong to come back from a deficit. Either way, don’t miss out on the action; you can catch games at 9:00 am ET, Noon ET, and 3:00 pm ET on the ESPN family of networks!
We’ll have you covered with another recap of the action here at Philly Sports Network after Matchday 2!
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