Euro 2020 – Sunday Recap

    The Euro 2020 action delivered some jaw-dropping moments on Sunday, as one of the tournament favorites England began their competition journey with a bang.

    David Alaba’s Austria were also in action in their Group C curtain-raiser against North Macedonia.

    Meanwhile, the Netherlands’ return to a major international tournament saw them lock horns with Andriy Shevchenko’s Ukraine.

    Let’s take a look at all three Euro 2020 fixtures that took place on Sunday.

    England 1-0 Croatia 

    England were keen to inflict revenge on Croatia for the 2018 World Cup semi-finals heartbreak as the sides met at Wembley Stadium in the Euro 2020 Group D opener.

    Heading into the tournament as one of the leading candidates to lift the crown, the Three Lions had a point to prove against the 2018 World Cup runners-up. 

    Despite making several odd choices relating to his starting XI selection, every Gareth Southgate decision proved to be spot-on. 

    The England gaffer opted for Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling to team up with his club teammate Phil Foden and Tottenham’s Harry Kane in the frontline.

    Additionally, Southgate benched Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham and Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson to play Leeds United star Kalvin Phillips as Declan Rice’s partner in the double-pivot.

    Both choices saw more than a few eyebrows raised, but it turned out the head coach couldn’t be more accurate in his decision-making.

    In a tight, keenly-contested match, Phillips and Sterling combined to break the deadlock in the 57th minute, the action that eventually decided the winner.

    A victory over Croatia saw England claim only their first-ever triumph in their opening match of the European Championship. They had failed to win any of their previous nine such contests (D5, L4).

    You can check England vs Croatia match highlights here.

    Austria 3-1 North Macedonia

    Seeking their first victory at the European Championship, Austria headed into their encounter with the competition debutant North Macedonia as odds-on favorites to claim all three points.

    The match at the Arena Națională in Bucharest saw Das Team looking to defy their Euro finals hoodoo. Before today’s match, Austria had managed just two strikes in six games at the final competition.

    However, everything went smoothly for Franco Foda’s side in Romania, with Borussia Monchengladbach’s Stefan Lainer propelling his side to an early lead.

    North Macedonia replied quickly through the country’s most-capped player and the highest goalscorer Goran Pandev, who restored a half-time stalemate. 

    The action was back and forth in the second half. But Austria grabbed the all-important tie-breaker as Michael Gregoritsch latched onto David Alaba’s inch-perfect low delivery to put his team back in front again.

    Second-half substitute Marko Arnautovic sealed the deal for the Austrians in the 89th minute, giving his country their first-ever victory at the Euro finals.

    Picking up all three points against the section underdogs was crucial to Austria’s hopes of reaching the knock-outs as they prepare to tackle the Netherlands and Ukraine in the next two rounds.

    You can check Austria vs North Macedonia match highlights here.

    The Netherlands 3-2 Ukraine

    Arguably the most exciting match at Euro 2020 so far took place at the Johan Cruyff Arena as the Netherlands beat Ukraine 3-2 in a five-goal epic.

    Seeking redemption after failing to qualify for the last two major international tournaments, the Oranje were desperate to get off to a flying start at the home venue. 

    Although action-packed football highlighted the first half, neither side managed to break the deadlock, with the Ukrainian goalkeeper Heorhiy Bushchan pulling off a few impressive saves to keep Holland at bay.

    However, the Dynamo Kyiv first-choice shot-stopper turned from hero to zero in the second half, making a couple of costly mistakes that ultimately cost his team a loss.

    Bushchan first spilled the ball right into Georginio Wijnaldum’s feet seven minutes into the second half. The new Paris Saint-Germain acquisition made no mistake from point-blank range to score the opener.

    Wolfsburg goal-machine Wout Weghorst put clear daylight between the sides in the 57th minute with his first goal at major international tournaments.

    But when it seemed like the Netherlands could have another day in the office, Ukraine put their foot on the gas and managed to at least temporarily upset the home supporters.

    West Ham United forward Andriy Yarmolenko scored an absolute stunner in the 75th minute to initiate the comeback and get in contention for the goal of the tournament.

    Only three minutes later, Genk striker Roman Yaremchuk eluded his marker to connect a powerful header with a perfect free-kick delivery from Atalanta’s Ruslan Malinovsky.

    Despite an outstanding quick comeback, Ukraine collapsed again after deciding to drop deep and defend a draw.

    PSV Eindhoven right-back Denzel Dumfries headed home Nathan Ake’s delightful cross from the edge of the box in the 85th minute to raise the roof in Amsterdam.

    You can check the Netherlands vs Ukraine match highlights here.

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