What a fantastic level of soccer, what excellent physical preparation, what determination, what verve, what grit, what flair, what pride in the shirt we are witnessing here all over France as Europe's boys kick off the Summer by celebrating soccer. Far better on the pitch than off it, today was no exception.
Italy 2 Belgium 0
Belgium had not beaten Italy in a competitive match in 34 years. At the beginning of the first half, we understood why but as the half grew on, in end-to-end soccer, Belgium's midfield started to gain control, creating some danger for Buffon. However, Italy reacted and scored on 32 minutes through Giaccherini, then fired two shots at Courteois' goal in three minutes.
Belgium was far from tamed, and as Italy fell back and played the counter-attack, with seven players massing the midfield, Belgium surged forward and created several attacks which could have been more dangerous if the center-forward Lukaku had not been marked out of the game - he did not have one chance in the entire first half.
In the second, the game exploded, with attack after attack after attack being launched in waves by both teams. This was soccer at its best, its very best. Lukaku shot over on 53' with only the keeper to beat, Pellè answered for Italy, with a header testing Courteois, for the next five minutes it was Belgium, Italy, Belgium, Italy, Belgium, Italy. The waves became longer, both teams pressed and right at the end, an Italian counter-attack ended in Pellè's 2-0. Deserved for Italy, yes. Did Belgium deserve to lose by two goals? No, a draw would have been a fairer result.
Buffon (Captain), Chiellini, Darmian (De Sciglio), Candreva, Pellè, Barzagli, De Rossi (Motta), Éder (Immobile), Parolo, Bonucci, Giaccherini
Courteois, Alderweireld, Vermaelen, Nainggolan (Mertens), Vertonghen, Witsel, De Bruyne, Fellaini, Lukaku (Origi), Hazard (Captain), Ciman (Carrasco)
Republic of Ireland 1 Sweden 1
Hoolahan (48) Clark (own goal) (71)
Frankly, the Republic of Ireland should have come away with the three points from a game in which the Emerald Isle shone, in terms of imagination, determination, grit, flair and magic. Ireland had four attempts on target, against none for Sweden, a team which looked shocked and suffocated from the start. Ireland also saw a ball come back off the crossbar, although Sweden had more possession and a better pass rate, the motor of the team, Ibrahimovic, forcing his colleagues forward. Almost marked out of the game, there was little the brilliant Sweden captain could do. Sweden will be celebrating, Ireland ruing the result.
Republic of Ireland
Randolph, Coleman, Clark, O'Shea (Captain), Whelan, McCarthy (McGeady), Long, Hendrick, Walters (McClean), Brady, Hoolahan (Keane)
Isaksson, Lustig (Johansson), Granqvist, Olsson, Forsberg, Larsson, Källström, Ibrahimovic (Captain), Berg (Guidetti), Lindelöf, Lewicki (Ekdal)
Spain 1 Czech Republic 0
More possession, more shots, more corners, more shots on target, one goal scored, none conceded, sums up the game between Spain and the Czech Republic, a tream which nevertheless put up a spirited and organized defense.
De Gea, Piqué, Busquets, Iniesta, Morata (Aduriz), Fàbregas (Alcántara), Ramos (Captain) Juanfran, Alba, Silva, Nolito (Rodríguez)
Cech, Kaderabek, Gebre Selassie (Sural), Hubnik, Sivok, Necid (Lafata), Limbersky, Rosicky (Captain) (Pavelka), Plasil, Krejci, Darida
Germany 2 Ukraine 0
Mykhailo Fomenko's team was the first at the EURO 2016 championship to lose by two goals. Did Ukraine deserve to lose by two goals against Germany tonight? No way. Fomenko has created an organized side, showing good physical preparation, very good teamwork. Ukraine played some brave, solid soccer. Unfortunately, being brave and passing the ball around the pitch is not enough against a German team which purrs like a well-oiled Mercedes Benz, which works 24 hours a day for 25 years without stopping and without a breakdown...without conceding a goal.
Germany does not miss a pass and from beginning to end launches constant attacks on both flanks, in the center, on the ground, on the volley and in the air. Guardiola's passage in Bayern Munich also gave the German midfield the quality of tiki-taka, the short-passing game which is so difficult to play against.
Germany managed nine shots on target, against Ukraine's three and had a ball possession statistic of 62% to Ukraine's 38%. The maturity of Germany's game is impressive. Yet even with the 38 per cent of possession, Ukraine had the chances to change the game, especially in the first half. Germany is excellent but something indicates that Löw's side may not any more be über alles...
Neuer (Captain), Mustafi, Hector, Höwedes, Khedira, Özil, Draxler (Schürrle), Müller, Boateng, Kroos, Götze (Bastian Schweinsteiger)
Pyatov, Khacheridi, Stepanenko, Yarmolenko, Zozulya (Seleznyov), Kovalenko (Zinchenko), Konoplyanka, Shevchuk (Captain), Sydorchuk, Fedetskiy, Rakitskiy
Croatia 1 Turkey 0
Srna, Perisic, Brozovic hit the crossbar. Modric scored with a long-range volley before the halfr-time break on 41'. There is no doubt which team deserved the three points. Croatia had 18 shots to 9, 6 on target against 2, although ball possession was divided almost equally, 51% to Croatia against Turkey's 49%. Yet again an excellent game of soccer, congratulations to both teams for maintaining the high standard we have seen so far here in France
Subasic, Strinic, Perisic (Kramanic), Corluka, Rakitic (Schildenfeld), Modric, Srna (Captain), Brozovic, Mandzukic (Pjaca), Badelj, Vida
Babacan, Balta, Çalhanoglu, Gönül, Inan, Tosun (Mor), Turan (Captain) (Yilmaz), Özyakup (Sen), Topal, Tufan, Erkin
Poland 1 Northern Ireland 0
Nobody can deny that Poland deserved the win, although Northern Ireland showed spirit, graft and courage, organization and teamwork, witness of the reason why the team has reached the final phase of the EURO 2016 championship in France.
Poland had 18 shots against Northern Ireland's 2, 8 corners to 1 and a ball possession of 60 per cent against 40. This superiority however was not translated into goals and throughout the game, Northern Ireland looked as if the slender lead could be cut. It was not to be.
Szczesny, Pazdan, Jedrzejczyk, Maczynski (Jodlowiec), Milik, Lewandowski (Captain), Krychowiak, Glik, Blaszczykowski (Grosicki), Piszczek, Kapusta (Peszko)
McGovern, McLaughlin, Ferguson (Washington), McAuley, Evans, Baird (Ward), David (Captain), Lafferty, Norwood, McNair (Dallas), Cathcart
In the age of globalized information, there are no secrets. Mighty Brazil was humiliated at home by Germany, playing tiki-taka, two years ago. Today, Albania, Wales and Iceland are participating as equals in the final phase of major championships. We saw why today. Wales got three points, Albania lost but was not outclassed.
Russia faced a young England team fired up by the cultured coach, Roy Hodgson. England today can pass the ball, can close the gaps at the back, can score and park the bus. Russia until today could not compete on equal terms with the world's best, except on rare occasions. Passes went astray, shots went wide...many Russians said "Soccer and Russia do not mix". Today, Russia re-wrote its footballing history.
Leonid Slutski's team fought on equal terms with an excellent and young England squad. Did Russia deserve to win the game? Frankly, no. But it would not have been a scandal if Russia did. Did Russia deserve to lose the game? Frankly, no. Conclusion: the result was fair.
England attacked more but the Russian defense was resolute throughout. And more, the Russian team respected England but was never over-awed.
England 1 Russia 1
Dier (73) Berezutski (90+2)
Hart, Walker, Rose, Cahill, Smalling, Sterling (Milner), Lallana, Kane, Rooney (Captain), (Wilshere), Dier, Alli
Akinfeev, Smolnikov, Ignashevich, Neustädter (Glushakov), Kokorin, Smolov (Mamaev), Golovin (Shirokov), V. Berezutski (Captain), Shatov, Schennikov, Dzyuba
Switzerland 1 Albania 0.
A goal on five minutes from Schär was enough to seal the win for the Swiss but Albania showed why they have reached the finals stage with some impressive football and great organization. Albania's captain Lorik Cana was sent off for getting second yellow card on 36'.
Sommer, Lichtsteiner, Seferovic, Xhaka, Behrami, Rodríguez, Dzemaili (Frei), Mehmedi (Embolo), Djourou, Schär, Shaqiri (Gelson Fernandes)
Berisha, Lenjani, Hysaj, Cana, Agolli, Sadiku (Gashi), Kukeli, Khaka (Kaçe), Mavraj, Roshi (Çikalleshi), Abrashi
Wales 2 Slovakia 1
Bale (10) Duda (61)
Slovakia saw one come back off the woodwork, saw 4 magnificent saves, had more ball possession, but Wales weathered the storm, held on and came back to clinch the winner. A magnificent team effort, proof that Wales is more than Gareth Bale. Chris Coleman substituted Williams for the goal-scorer: for Ján Kozák's side, Duda came on after 60 minutes and scored almost immediately.
Ward, Gunter, Taylor, Davies, Chester, A. Williams (Captain), Allen, Ramsey (J. Richards), Bale, Edwards (Ledley), J. Williams (Hal Robson-Kanu)
Kozacik, Pekarik, Skrtel (Captain), Durica, Weiss, Hrosovsky (Duda), Hamsik, Svento, Kucka (Stoch), Mak, Duris (Nemec)
France 2 Romania 1
Giroud (58) Stanciu (pen.) (65)
At the Stade de France, in Paris, Didier Deschamps' France, the hosts, faced Anghel Iordanescu's Romania. The teams had drawn four of their last five competitive matches and at the EURO, the last two encounters ended in a 1-0 win for Framce in 1996 and a 0-0 draw in 2008.
Iordanescu had said before the match started that he aimed to qualify for the next round and also to show quality football. And he delivered. At half-time, Romania had had an equal chance of a goal and had been denied a clear penalty.
The first situation of danger came on 4' after a corner to Romania, the ball was cleared off the French line by goalkeeper Lloris. On 10', Griezmann came back for France, getting a corner from which Giroud headed just wide. Giroud took advantage of a rebound on 14', firing against the post. On 36', Griezmann fired just wide as once again France created danger.
38 minutes, PENALTY TO ROMANIA!!
But not given by the referee Viktor Kassai. And one was clearly fouled in the penalty area, receiving a treacherous and dangerous kick to his knee.
The first half ended with Giroud heading over from a corner. Chances for both sides, France ahead in terms of attack, but Romania resolute.
After the break, Stanciu fired wide after gaining a good position on 48' but France came back. Tatarusanu saved on the line on 52', and again on 57' denied Pogba. On 58', Giroud back-headed the first French goal from outside the area.
Romania did not give up and on 64', Stanciu was fouled in the area, and scored (65') from the resulting penalty. 1-1. End-to-end stuff until right at the end of the game, when Payet pulled off perhaps the goal of the tournament in the first match, firing into the top right-hand corner from outside the area. Space given by the Romanian defence, but a spectacular piece of timely individual skill.
Lloris, Sagna, Koscielny, Rami, Evra, Kante, Matuidi, Pogba (Martial), Griezmann (Coman), Payet (Sissoko), Giroud
Tatarusanu, Sapunaru, Grigore, Chiriches, Rat, Hoban, Pintilii, Stanciu, Popa (Torje), Stanciu (Chipciu), Andone (Alibec)
EURO 2016 France: All you need to know
Russia's games, calendars of games, the groups and the system, all here at Pravda.Ru sports section. Pravda.Ru sportsdesk led by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey with five correspondents in France will bring you all the latest information on the games, the players and the competition.
June 11 v. England in Marseille (20.00 BST)
June 15 v. Slovakia in Lille (14.00 BST)
June 20 v. Wales in Toulouse (20.00 BST)
Euro 2016 - The groups
France, Romania, Albania, Switzerland
June 10 (20) France 2 Romania 1 (Giroud, Payet) (Stanciu)
June 11 (14) Albania 0 Switzerland 1 (Schär)
June 15 (17) Romania v. Switzerland
June 15 (20) France v. Albania
June 20 (20) Romania v. Albania; Switzerland v. France
France 1 1 0 0 2 1 3
Switzerland 1 1 0 0 1 0 3
Romania 1 0 0 1 1 2 0
Albania 1 0 0 1 0 1 0
England, Russia, Wales, Slovakia
June 11 (17) Wales 2 Slovakia 1 (Bale, Robson-Kanu) (Duda)
June 11 (20) England 1 Russia 1 (Dier) (Berezutski)
June 15 (14) Russia v. Slovakia
June 16 (14) England v. Wales
June 20 (20) Russia v. Wales; Slovakia v. England
Wales 1 0 0 2 1 3
Russia 1 0 1 0 1 1 1
England 1 0 1 0 1 1 1
Slovakia 1 0 0 1 1 2 0
Germany, Ukraine, Poland, Northern Ireland
June 12 (17) Poland 1 Northern Ireland 0 (Milik)
June 12 (20) Germany 2 Ukraine 0 (Mustafi, Schweinsteiger)
June 16 (17) Ukraine v. Northern Ireland
June 16 (20) Germany v. Poland
June 21 (17) Ukraine v. Poland; Northern Ireland v. Germany
Germany 1 1 0 0 2 0 3
Poland 1 1 0 0 1 0 3
Northern Ireland 1 0 0 1 0 1 0
Ukraine 1 0 0 1 0 2 0
Spain, Czech Republic, Turkey, Croatia
June 12 (14) Turkey 0 Croatia 1 (Modric)
June 13 (14) Spain 1 Czech Republic 0 (Piqué)
June 17 (17) Czech Republic v. Croatia
June 17 (20) Spain v. Turkey
June 21 (20) Czech Republic v. Turkey; Croatia v. Spain
Spain 1 1 0 0 1 0 3
Croatia 1 1 0 0 1 0 3
Turkey 1 0 0 1 0 1 0
Czech Republic 1 0 0 1 0 1 0
Belgium, Italy, Republic of Ireland, Sweden
June 13 (17) Republic of Ireland 1 Sweden 1 (Hoolahan) (Clark, og)
June 13 (20) Belgium 0 Italy 2 (Giaccherini, Pellè)
June 17 (14) Italy v. Sweden
June 18 (14) Belgium v. Republic of Ireland
June 22 (20) Italy v. Republic of Ireland; Sweden v. Belgium
Republic of Ireland 1 0 1 0 1 1 1
Sweden 1 0 1 0 1 1 1
Portugal, Iceland, Austria, Hungary
June 14 (17) Austria v. Hungary
June 14 (20) Portugal v. Iceland
June 17 (17) Iceland v. Hungary
June 17 (20) Portugal v. Austria
June 22 (17) Iceland v. Austria; Hungary v. Portugal
Saturday June 25 Group A (2) v. Group C (2); Group B (1) v. Group ACD (3); Group D (1) v. Group BEF (3)
Sunday June 26 Group A (1) v. Group CDE (3); Group C (1) v. Group ABF (3); Group F (1) v. Group E (2)
Monday June 27 Group E (1) v. Group D (2); Group B (2) v. Group F (2)
Edited by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey