Euro 2024 data dive: Ronaldo breaks assist record, Group E set for historic finish

By Sports Desk June 22, 2024

The action continued at Euro 2024 on Saturday, with Portugal becoming the second side to clinch their place as group winners, after Spain.

It was a memorable day for Cristiano Ronaldo, and not only because a total of six pitch invaders attempted to get a picture with the legendary forward.

He laid on a record-breaking seventh goal at the European Championships as the Selecao crushed Turkiye 3-0, while there was nothing to separate Georgia and Czechia in a 1-1 draw elsewhere in Group F.

In Group E, meanwhile, it's all to play for with all four teams on three points after two games, following Belgium's 2-0 victory over Romania.

Here, we run through all the best Opta stats to emerge from the day's matches.

Georgia 1-1 Czechia: Mikautadze replicates Shevchenko feat

The first game of the day served up yet another entertaining encounter as Georgia claimed their first point at a major tournament against Czechia in Hamburg. 

Georges Mikautadze gave Georgia the lead after Robin Hranac was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the area, scoring from the penalty spot to become the sixth player to net both of his nation's first two goals at the European Championships, and the first since Andriy Shevchenko in 2012 for Ukraine.

Giorgi Mamardashvili made eight saves in the first half, equalling the most of any goalkeeper in an entire game at Euro 2024, as Georgia held their advantage until the break.

Despite his heroics, Georgia's lead was gone 14 minutes into the second half as Patrik Schick moved ahead of Milan Baros as Czechia's top scorer at the Euros, putting the ball in off his chest from close range for his sixth goal at the competition (five in 2020).

Czechia continued to dominate proceedings, but their lack of clinical edge in front of goal proved costly. They recorded 12 shots on target against Georgia; the most by a team who failed to win a match at the European Championships on record (since 1980). 

But a lot of that was down to the inspired performance of Mamardashvili. The Georgia goalkeeper made three saves in the second half, taking his tally to 11 for the match, with only Latvia's Alexanders Kolinko (12) making more in a game at the Euros on record (since 1980), against the Netherlands in 2004. 

However, Georgia had a golden opportunity to earn their maiden win at a major tournament when they found themselves three-on-one with the clock ticking down, but Saba Lobjanidze could only fire the ball over the bar. 

Georgia now know they must beat Portugal in their final group game in Gelsenkirchen next Wednesday, but they can take confidence from their recent form. 

Since losing three in a row between June and September 2023, Georgia have only lost two of their last nine games in all competitions (four wins, three draws).

Turkiye 0-3 Portugal: Ronaldo breaks all-time assist record

259 miles west of Dortmund, Portugal became the latest team to confirm their place in the last 16 of Euro 2024 with a comfortable triumph over Turkiye, recording their joint-biggest victory in a match at the Euros in the process. 

Roberto Martinez's side were aided by a defensive disasterclass from their opponents, having taken the lead through Bernardo Silva's first international goal at a major tournament.

Samet Akaydin's calamitous own goal doubled their advantage, the defender's misplaced back pass rolling in for only the second own goal from outside the box in European Championship history, after Pedri achieved the unwanted feat for Spain against Croatia at Euro 2020. 

Portugal will, however, be without Rafael Leao for their final group game against Georgia, having picked up his second yellow card of Euro 2024, both for diving, becoming the only player on record (since 1980) to have multiple cards for simulation at the tournament.

Bruno Fernandes made sure of the victory 10 minutes into the second half, with more defensive blunders allowing Ronaldo to lay the ball on a plate to secure his seventh assist at the European Championships – the most on record (since 1968) of any player in the competition’s history.

Manchester United midfielder Fernandes continued his stellar spell for his national side, and he has now been involved in 28 goals in his last 23 appearances for Portugal in all competitions, scoring 15 and assisting 13.

Martinez's side have now won both of their group-stage games so far in Euro 2024, more than they did in the 2016 and 2020 editions combined (one win, four draws, one defeat). It’s the third time they’ve won their opening two games at a single edition of the competition, after Euro 2000 and Euro 2008.

After an impressive opening display against Georgia, Turkiye suffered their 11th defeat in the group stages of the Euros, with only Denmark (13) having more such defeats in the history of the competition.

Belgium 2-0 Romania: De Bruyne the star as Red Devils bounce back

Following their surprise 1-0 defeat to Slovakia on matchday one, Belgium bounced back with a 2-0 victory over Romania in Cologne, ensuring they continued their run of winning at least one game on all seven of their appearances at the European Championships.

They wasted little time in getting their noses in front, with Aston Villa's Youri Tielemans lashing home from the edge of the box after just 73 seconds.

That was Belgium's fastest ever goal at a major tournament (World Cup/Euros) and the third-fastest strike in Euros history, after Russia's Dmitry Kirichenko (76 seconds) against Greece in 2004 and Albania's Nedim Bajrami (23 seconds) versus Italy this year.

It was Tielemans' first goal at a major international tournament on his 13th such appearance, with five of his eight strikes for his country coming from outside the area. 

Domenico Tedesco's team continued to dominate as they sought a two-goal cushion, with Romelu Lukaku penalised for offside in the second half following a VAR review, having a third goal chalked off at this tournament – more than any player has scored thus far.

Fortunately for Belgium, Kevin De Bruyne stepped up to make the points safe 11 minutes from time, prodding past Florin Nita when one-on-one. 

Since the start of the 2014 World Cup (his first major tournament), no Belgian has been involved in more Euro or World Cup goals than the Manchester City star, whose 13 goal contributions (four goals, nine assists) put him level with Lukaku and Eden Hazard.

De Bruyne's five shots against Romania were his most in a Euros match since 2016 (seven versus Hungary). No player on the pitch had more shots, shots on target (three), made more tackles (four) or won more fouls (four) than the Belgium skipper.

The result means all four teams in Group E have three points with one game remaining, setting up a tense finale for next Wednesday.

This is the first time that a European Championship group has featured four teams level on points ahead of the final set of fixtures.

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    Colorado sit fourth in the Western Conference, six points behind leaders Los Angeles FC, after winning five of their last six games (one defeat).

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    Armas, however, says all that good work could easily be undone if they do not understand how to combat the Red Bulls' high-pressing style.

    "It's five out of the last six that we've won but this is the past. We have to reset and be ready against a really good team," Armas said.

    "Part one is to understand the opposition and part two is to execute. This is very specific, they're very clear in the way they play.

    "I've seen a lot of teams play against them but it's not easy against that philosophy. It's very intensive and you have to actually go out and execute your plan."  

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    They have lost key attacking midfielder Emil Forsberg to injury and he is expected to be sidelined for at least a month, but head coach Sandro Schwarz is confident they can cope.

    "With Emil the situation is now clear, but we also played the last two games without Emil," Schwarz said. "We showed, for me, very good performances.

    "He's a key player, for sure, but now we have to handle it and it's my job with the coaching staff to cope with this. Hopefully he will come back as soon as possible."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH 

    Colorado Rapids – Cole Bassett

    Bassett, Kevin Cabral and Jonathan Lewis all had a goal and an assist in the Rapids' 4-1 win over St. Louis last Sunday, the first time three Rapids players had done so in the same match since 2008 – Mehdi Ballouchy, Colin Clark and Tom McManus versus the Red Bulls.

    Bassett's seven goals in MLS this term have only been bettered by Rafael Navarro (11) and Djordje Mihailovic (10) among Colorado players.

    New York Red Bulls – Dante Vanzier

    Vanzier averages 0.42 assists per 90 minutes in MLS this year, the fifth-best figure in the competition, while he has also created 1.55 chances per game.

    The Red Bulls may have to absorb plenty of pressure on Saturday, but they will be keen to get Vanzier involved whenever they manage to mount an attack.

    MATCH PREDICTION: DRAW

    The Rapids have won their last two meetings with the Red Bulls, including an incredible 5-4 victory the last time the sides faced off in 2022. Colorado had only won three of their previous 12 matches against them in all competitions dating back to 2010.

    Colorado have won seven of their last nine games on home soil (one draw, one loss), including their last four in a row, their longest home winning streak since a six-match run spanning the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

    The Red Bulls, though, are solid opponents and played out a goalless draw on the road against the Philadelphia Union last time out – their fourth of the campaign. It would be no surprise to see them attempt to keep things tight again here.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Colorado Rapids – 36.8%

    New York Red Bulls – 37%

    Draw – 26.3%

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  • Toronto FC v Philadelphia Union: Herdman hoping to restore Reds' confidence ahead of must-win clash Toronto FC v Philadelphia Union: Herdman hoping to restore Reds' confidence ahead of must-win clash

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    But fortunes have not been different in the MLS. Toronto have failed to win a league game since a 5-1 victory against CF Montreal back in May, losing eight of their last nine games.

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    “It’s a few goals that we have conceded, but it’s another goal we have conceded with a ball like that and confidence just ebbs.

    “We got back into it and scored our goal. We had a few good chances, but again, I think what we saw was a commitment from our players when there is that desperation and there’s an absolute clarity that it is all on the line.”

    For Philadelphia Union, meanwhile, they have endured a similar run of results that leaves them just a point ahead of bottom side D.C. United in the Eastern Conference standings.

    Philadelphia’s draw with New England Revolution halted a run of five consecutive losses, but they have also not won since May – a 3-0 win over the Revs.

    Head coach Jim Curtin understands the magnitude of the game between two of the division’s out of form sides and insisted that his side need to find a way of getting a result.

    "Toronto is a big one for both teams. We're both struggling, both not where we want to be, I think both have more quality within their group than the point total shows,” Curtin said.

    “But I've said it before you are what your record says you are, and we have to find a way to get a result.”

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Toronto FC – Prince Owusu

    Having failed to score in six matches after picking up a calf injury, Prince Owusu found himself back among the goals for Toronto against Forge FC.

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    Philadelphia Union – Mikael Uhre

    Over the years, three Union players (Sergio Santos, Daniel Gazdag and Mikael Uhre) have scored hat-tricks against Toronto FC since 2020, and Mikael Uhre would love to net another treble this time around.

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    MATCH PREDICTION: PHILADELPHIA UNION WIN

    With both sides in desperate need of a victory, Opta’s data-led simulations have Philadelphia claiming the win at the BMO Field, but their record in Toronto is far from impressive.

    The Union have won just one of their last 10 meetings with Toronto on the road (D2, L7), dating back to 2015. Philadelphia’s only victory in Toronto during that time was a 2-1 win in May 2019.

    Toronto FC have lost six straight regular-season matches for the sixth time since the start of the 2021 season. They had one losing streak of six or more matches in their first 14 MLS seasons (2007-20).

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Toronto FC – 30.2%

    Draw – 24.9%

    Philadelphia Union – 44.9%

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