The 2016 UEFA European Championships is being played across France from June 10 to July 10 for the first time with 24 nations across 10 venues in nine cities with the French capital Paris being the only city with two venues in the Stade de France and the Park de Prince.
The defending double champions are Spain, who are three time record champions along with Germany.
GROUP E – Matchday 1
Ireland 1-1 (0-0) Sweden
Ireland and Sweden played out a one-all draw in their Group E opener at the Stade de France in St. Denis.
After a slow start by both teams into the game, Ireland looked the more treathening of the two sides with Jeff Hendricks shot cleared by keeper Andreas Isaksson and then captain John O’Shea missing to connect with an empty net infront of him. Ireland were now in control and further chances fell to Robbie Brady and then Jeff Hendricks fired the ball onto the crossbar in the 32nd minute.
In the second session Ireland continued with their game and Isaksson denied Jeff Hendricks once more in the 47th minute before Wes Hoolahan gave Ireland the lead only a minute later.
One goal down, Sweden now woke-up and were suddenly part of the game with Emil Forsberg having the Scandinavians first chance in the 50th minute. Superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic was also part of the game and the Sweden captain had his first chance in the 59th minute when a direct attempt just went wide.
Sweden got their equaliser in the 71st minute and it was Zlatan who set-up the chance and then crossed the ball into the middle where Ciaran Clark headed the ball into his own net.
Thereafter nothing much happened and the match ended in a stalemate.
Carlsberg Man of the Match: Wes Hoolahan (Ireland) #IRLSWE
Belgium 0-2 (0-1) Italy
Italy shocked one of the tournament favourites Belgium 2-0 with a typical clinical Italian defensive performance to pull the plug on the Belgian attacks in Lyon.
In the first half hour Belgium was all over the Italians, who cleverly pulled back and gave Belgium space to combine but not get through as except a long ranger from Radja Nainggolan which Gianluigi Buffon cleared.
Close to the half hour mark, Italy had their first chance through Graziano Pelle, whose shot just about missed the target, but then came the 31st minute, a long ball from Leonardo Bonucci for Emanuele Giaccherini which is misjudged by defender Toby Alderweireld and Giaccherini places the ball perfect past Thibaut Courtois into the goal. Belgium was shocked, but Italy could not score their second of the chances they got.
After the break, Belgium came back with the intent to equalise. But they only had a couple of real big chances through strikers Romelu Lukaku and substitute Divock Origi as they were unable to find the gaps or when they did, an Italian was there to clear.
In added time Graziano Pelle banged in Italy’s second to seal a memorable victory and suddenly the underrated Italians are back amongs the title contenders, while Belgium’s golden generation will have to play better to progress in the tournament.
Carlsberg Man of the Match: Emanuele Giaccherini (Italy) #BELITA