Christian Eriksen has thanked those who assisted him after he suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch against Finland on Saturday and now wants to "understand what happened".

Inter midfielder Eriksen collapsed in the first half of the Euro 2020 match in Copenhagen with no other player around him.

He was given CPR by medics and the fixture was originally suspended, but once Eriksen was confirmed to be "awake" the game resumed just under two hours later, Finland going on to win 1-0.

The Danish Football Union (DBU) provided an update on Sunday, confirming that he had suffered a cardiac arrest but his condition was stable pending further examinations.

Team doctor Morten Boesen detailed how he could initially feel a pulse when he arrived at Eriksen's side, but that "suddenly changed" and meant CPR was necessary.

The medical team and Denmark captain Simon Kjaer were widely praised for their respective roles, with the centre-back quickly placing Eriksen in the recovery position.

And, speaking through his agent to Gazzetta dello Sport, Eriksen relayed a brief message of thanks as he now sets about learning why it happened.

He said: "Thank you, I won't give up. I feel better now, but I want to understand what happened. I want to say thank you all for what you did for me."

Denmark are next due to be in action on Thursday against Belgium.

Jose Mourinho revealed he "prayed" and "cried" for Christian Eriksen after the Denmark star collapsed during Saturday's Euro 2020 clash against Finland.

Inter midfielder Eriksen suffered cardiac arrest when collapsing on the pitch before being resuscitated, Denmark's team doctor Morten Boesen said.

Eriksen was given CPR by medics in the first half of the Group B match after falling to the ground with no other player around him – the fixture was originally suspended, but the former Tottenham star was later confirmed to be "awake" and the game resumed a little under two hours later, with Finland winning 1-0 in Copenhagen.

Ex-Tottenham head coach Mourinho spent time with Eriksen prior to the Denmark international's move to Inter in 2020 and the Roma-bound boss said he was reduced to tears.

"I cannot stop thinking about what happened," Mourinho told talkSPORT. "I think it's a day to celebrate, not to be sad.

"It was much more important than football but at the same time I believe that it also showed the good values of football.

"The love, the solidarity, family spirit. It was not just about his family, it was about the football family. Football bringing people together.

"I prayed yesterday, I cried yesterday, but how many millions did that around the world. I believe many because football can bring people together.

"Yesterday, for the wrong reasons football brought people together. In the end, we can celebrate Christian is alive.

"Of course, I didn't speak with him, but I spoke with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg this morning and Pierre is very positive about Christian.

"The news is good, so I think it's a moment to celebrate."

Frank de Boer acknowledged the Netherlands must tighten up after letting slip a two-goal lead before eventually overcoming Ukraine 3-2 in their Euro 2020 opener.

The Netherlands appeared to be in complete control of the Group C clash in Amsterdam when Georginio Wijnaldum and Wout Weghorst scored in a six-minute burst early in the second half on Sunday.

However, Andriy Yarmolenko's brilliant curling strike from distance halved the deficit, with Ukraine then drawing level when Roman Yaremchuk headed in from a free-kick.

Denzel Dumfries was the unlikely hero for the Netherlands with an 85th-minute winner, though De Boer was concerned at the way his team conceded twice to let slip such a commanding position.

"You know Yarmolenko is left-footed, he's famous for it. We have to defend it better, even if it was a great goal. It was not necessary," De Boer said in his post-match news conference.

"The second goal was a free-kick. Two players were too enthusiastic and that's the reason why there was no offside given.

"We have to learn from these mistakes so hopefully next time they do not happen. The opponents always get opportunities, but you hope it will not happen because of your own faults.

"These two goals, I'm sure, were not necessary."

All the drama came after a scoreless first 45 minutes, making it the first match in European Championship history to see five goals go in after the break having been 0-0 at half-time.

The contest followed a similar pattern to other games so far in the tournament: Euro 2020 has seen just four first-half goals compared to 15 after the interval, that second-half tally well above the 9.2 xG (expected goals) number, per Opta data.

The Netherlands have qualified for the finals for the first time since 2012, with this their first European Championship win since the 2008 edition.

"There were a few moments when we tried to counter but they could open up the game. We should be smarter on these opportunities, sometimes make a foul to stop the game," De Boer continued.

"We have to look for a better way. You cannot play 90 minutes without making a mistake, that's not realistic.

"We will have to analyse these things and see in what ways we need to improve. We have to try and not give away these dangerous moments for opponents."

Ukraine boss Andriy Shevchenko was pleased with how his players responded to the situation of finding themselves two goals down, even if their fightback eventually came to nothing.

"I think it was a quick and interesting game, loads of opportunities for both teams," he told the media.

"I want to thank my team for the reaction they showed, especially when down 2-0. We had a great reaction, found energy to change the attack and the formation. They showed themselves very well."

North Macedonia, who lost 3-1 to Austria in the earlier kick-off in the group, are next up for Ukraine.

The Netherlands edged a 3-2 thriller with Ukraine in the pick of the Euro 2020 matches to date, while England and Austria also got off the mark in their opening group games on Sunday.

Denzel Dumfries was the late hero for the Oranje with his first international goal to sink Ukraine, who had battled back from two goals down in Amsterdam to temporarily level things.

Austria also left it late to see off minnows North Macedonia 3-1 in Bucharest earlier in the day and England beat Croatia 1-0 at Wembley through a well-taken Raheem Sterling strike.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform looks at some of the best facts from across Sunday's entertaining action at Euro 2020.

England 1-0 Croatia: Three Lions make winning start at Wembley

Sterling's first goal at a major international tournament in his 13th appearance was enough for England to overcome Croatia in a repeat of the 2018 World Cup semi-final.

Croatia offered very little in response as England made it 11 straight victories in games in which Sterling has scored – the best-such win rate of any player in the nation's history.

The Three Lions are now unbeaten in 12 games at Wembley in major tournaments (exluding penalty shoot-outs), winning eight and drawing four of those matches.

The victory for Gareth Southgate's side in their Group D opener was their seventh in a row in all competitions – their best such run since March 2015 under Roy Hodgson.

It was also the first time England have won their opening game at a European Championship finals in their 10th participation in the tournament.

That is in contrast to Croatia, who lost their first match in the competition for the first time, having won four and drawn one of the previous five.

The contest was also a special occasion for England substitute Jude Bellingham, who at 17 years and 349 days became the youngest ever player to feature at the Euros.

Austria 3-1 North Macedonia: Substitutes strike late to deny tournament debutants

North Macedonia's first ever game at a major tournament ended with a late defeat to Austria in Bucharest.

Aged 37 years and 321 days, 120-cap Goran Pandev became the second-oldest goalscorer in the competition when cancelling out Stefan Lainer's opener.

That was just Lainer's second goal for Austria, with his only other international strike coming against North Macedonia in qualifying.

Michael Gregoritsch and Marko Arnautovic were introduced to snatch the three points for Austria – their first ever win at the European Championships in what was their seventh game.

In doing so, Gregoritsch and Arnautovic became the first pair to score from the bench for the same country in the competition since Michy Batshuayi and Yannick Carrasco for Belgium (v Hungary) in 2016.

Arnautovic's goal to make certain of the win was his 27th for Austria at senior level, with three of those coming against North Macedonia – more than he has managed against any other country.

Netherlands 3-2 Ukraine: Oranje leave it late to edge thriller

The Netherlands ended a run of four straight defeats at the European Championship with a dramatic victory against Ukraine in Amsterdam.

All five goals were scored in the second half, making it the highest-scoring fixture in the competition's history after a goalless first half.

The first half may have ended scoreless, but the tempo was set early on as there were nine shots in the opening 10 minutes – a tournament record since Opta started recording such data in 1980.

Georginio Wijnaldum opened the scoring in the 52nd minute with his 15th goal in 26 appearances for Oranje, having scored only eight times in his first 50 games for his national side.

Wout Weghorst added a second soon after, but Andriy Yarmolenko pulled one back with a sublime strike to end a run of 72 shots without a goal for Ukraine at the Euros.

From the visitors' very next attempt, Roman Yaremchuk headed in an equaliser to seemingly steal a point at the Johan Cruijff ArenA.

But Dumfries found the back of the net in the 85th minute, making it the latest game-winning goal for the Netherlands at the Euros since current boss Frank de Boer scored an 89th-minute penalty against Czech Republic at Euro 2000.

A late first international goal for Denzel Dumfries secured a thrilling 3-2 victory for the Netherlands in their Euro 2020 opener after Ukraine had fought back from two goals down.

Ukraine goalkeeper Georgi Bushchan frustrated the Oranje with a string of first-half saves, but his mistake gifted captain Georginio Wijnaldum the chance to open the scoring early in the second half.

Wout Weghorst added a second soon after in the Group C clash at the Johan Cruijff ArenA on Sunday, but a stunning finish from skipper Andriy Yarmolenko 15 minutes from time gave Ukraine hope.

Roman Yaremchuk capitalised on slack defending to seemingly salvage a point in Amsterdam, but Dumfries nodded home the winner only five minutes from time to make amends for missing a glorious first-half chance.

Roberto Martinez says he has never seen "carefree" Eden Hazard work so hard and is also hopeful of having Kevin De Bruyne back to fitness for Belgium's clash with Denmark.

Hazard has been blighted by injuries during his two seasons at Real Madrid and was not deemed ready to start Belgium's 3-0 win over Russia in Saturday's Group B opener.

The 30-year-old played the final 18 minutes in Saint Petersburg – only his second international outing in 19 months, six days after coming on as a substitute against Croatia.

He managed only 18 touches of the ball during his time on the field, but Martinez is pleased with the progress being made by the Madrid forward to get back to his best.

"I've never seen him work so hard off the field," Martinez said at a news conference on Sunday. "As a captain, he feels the responsibility. From the first day he was with us, he works hard.

"Against Russia, that's the first time I've seen a carefree Hazard. Before that I always saw him thinking on the pitch.

"Now he is playing more intuitively, making moves and getting away from defenders. The challenge now is to last for 90 minutes.

"He worked individually again today, but he will get more minutes against Denmark and even more against Finland, when he should be able to play the full 90."

De Bruyne played no part in Belgium's comfortable win against Russia, secured thanks to a couple of Romelu Lukaku goals and one for Thomas Meunier.

The Manchester City man is recovering from the fractured nose and left orbital he sustained in his club side's loss to Chelsea in the Champions League final two weeks ago.

However, De Bruyne has a chance of being ready in time to feature against Denmark in Copenhagen on Thursday.

"He will resume training tomorrow," Martinez said. "After that we'll evaluate whether he can come to Copenhagen with us to play against Denmark."

Martinez also revealed that Axel Witsel will make a surprise return to action next week, just five months after tearing his Achilles tendon while playing for Borussia Dortmund.

"My idea was to have him start against Finland for the first time," he said. "That's why I named him in the 26-man group.

"But since he is ahead of schedule, he will be given some minutes against Denmark."

Belgium will be looking to build on a run of just one defeat in their last 24 matches in all competitions when they travel to Denmark.

The Danes lost 1-0 to Finland in their Group B opener, a game that was overshadowed by Christian Eriksen suffering a cardiac arrest during the first half.

Eriksen was given CPR on the pitch by medics and is now "awake" and recovering in hospital.

Denmark's players returned to the field less than two hours later and were beaten by a Joel Pohjanpalo goal, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg missing from the penalty spot.

"They were not themselves against Finland," Martinez said. "The circumstances with Eriksen weighed on the group. 

"We can expect a different Denmark and a very tough game on Thursday. You cannot compare the circumstances

"That will be a very emotional game, especially before kick-off. They have a very strong team, as we know from the Nations League. 

"The Danes will also have the support of the fans. But we need those kinds of matches. The match should be a celebration in honour of Eriksen, as it were."

Denmark and Belgium's only previous meeting at a major tournament was in the group stages of Euro 1984, the Danes winning that one 3-2 after recovering from two goals down.

David Alaba was pleased with the character shown by Austria after they produced a strong second-half display to beat North Macedonia - but promised it was just the start for them at Euro 2020.

Late goals from substitutes Michael Gregoritsch and Marko Arnautovic secured a 3-1 result against North Macedonia in Bucharest, Austria's first win at a European Championships.

Indeed, they had not triumphed at a major tournament since the 1990 World Cup, a barren run that appeared set to continue when Goran Pandev capitalised on a loose ball to cancel out Stefan Lainer's volleyed opener in the Group C contest.

Yet Austria dominated for long spells after the break and eventually found a way through, Alaba providing an inviting cross for Gregoritsch to put Austria back ahead.

"We achieved our first goal with these three points, we wanted to get this victory, but we have to stay calm and focus on our next match," Alaba told the media.

"We are not happy just with the three points. This was our first goal we wanted to achieve, now we want to continue. Of course we want to impose our game and continue to collect points, that's our target.

"This shows our character and personality, we want to continue on this path."

He added: "At half-time, we said to each other that we had to play faster, that we wanted to control the match.

"In the second half, we had some spells where we really put the foot down, where we lost the ball and directly tried to get it back. That is what we talked about at half-time, that we wanted the three points.

"You could see how hungry and willing we were. We wanted to show our character, our team spirit on the pitch – I think we managed to do that."

Alaba surprisingly lined up at the heart of a back three, though popped up on the left flank to provide the assist for Gregoritsch's crucial goal.

Austria's captain - who has ended his long association with Bayern Munich by joining Real Madrid on a free transfer - completed 93 of his 99 attempted passes in the game, a new record for his country in a European Championship fixture.

Head coach Franco Foda was delighted with Alaba's impact on proceedings, though made clear the system could change when they go up against the Netherlands in Amsterdam on Thursday.

"He played in this position for Bayern a lot, we just switched to a back three. At Bayern he also played that way, so that's no problem for him," Foda said.

"In the second half, he helped us and supported us in attack, especially on the left. This was his duty and I'm very happy with his 90 minutes.

"He organised our defensive work well, talked a lot with his team-mates and this is important. In the second half, he helped us in terms of attacking."

Arnautovic did not start having gone into the tournament recovering from an injury, though he made an impact off the bench by scoring Austria's third goal in the 89th minute.

On his compatriot, Alaba said: "We players always want to play, but we can see what character he has. He came on and gave 100 per cent straight away. He's a very important player for us, both on and off the pitch. We know what he means to us."

Raheem Sterling felt it was important to "block the outside world off" ahead of his match-winning turn in England's 1-0 Euro 2020 victory over Croatia.

Manchester City forward Sterling was played in for the only goal following some fabulous play by Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips after 57 minutes at Wembley.

The 26-year-old's club future has been the subject of mounting speculation after losing his place as an automatic starter for Pep Guardiola, while there has been little progress in talks over extending his contract at the Etihad Stadium that expires in 2023.

A solitary goal for City since the end of February, allayed with the enviable options Gareth Southgate has in attack for England, led to calls for Sterling to be ditched in favour of Jack Grealish ahead of the Group D opener.

Additionally, Sterling had failed to score in 12 previous outings at major tournaments for his country, but now has 13 in his past 17 appearances for the Three Lions.

"To be honest with you, I think playing football and being in major tournaments for a long time now, one of the things you learn is knowing when to block noise out," he told a post-match news conference after being named UEFA's Star of the Match.

"That's what I've done. I've blocked the outside world off and just tried to focus on coming into this tournament with a clear head, fully focused to help my team and that's the most important thing.

"I've haven't tried to listen to any noise outside – focus on myself, I know what I can bring to the team and it's as simple as that."

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Southgate hailed Sterling's all-round contribution on a sweltering London afternoon, with the winger's 12 duels contested more than any of his team-mates.

"He's been a reliable performer for us for a long period of time and his goals record in the last two-and-a-half years with us and with his club… even this year, I know people are saying he hasn't hit the heights but he's still one-in-three for his club," he said, seemingly joining Sterling in the block-noise-out club.

"We can't have all the scoring burden on Harry [Kane]. You've got to have players in those wide areas and in midfield who can chip in as well.

"I thought he looked a threat the whole day. I have to also say his work without the ball was phenomenal, positionally and the desire to track and stop them advancing."

Phillips was another player to catch the eye with and without the ball.

He was second to Sterling with 11 duels contested and recovered possession more often than any other England player (seven).

The 25-year-old completed 31 of 33 passes overall and 19 of 20 inside the opposition half, including his assist for Sterling at the end of a driving run and a wonderful piece of skill.

"To be able to work with the coach [Marcelo Bielsa] that he has and to have a season of playing in the Premier League will have given him tremendous confidence," Southgate said.

"All those attributes were there – the range of passing, the athleticism, the desire. He's just a very good footballer – high performance, low maintenance. We like that a lot."

Sterling was understandably very appreciative of Phillips' performance.

"He was good in there, he brings a lot of energy to the team. He's on the front foot, at opposition midfielders and always in their faces," he added.

"At the same time he's great with the ball, uses the ball well. For our goal you can see the clever play, the drive with the ball, the little skill at the end and a great weight of pass.

"He brings a lot to the team. It's a credit to him – first major tournament and he's done brilliantly today."

Denmark's Euro 2020 match against Finland on Saturday should not have restarted following the cardiac arrest suffered by Christian Eriksen, according to head coach Kasper Hjulmand. 

Inter midfielder Eriksen was given CPR by medics in the first half of the Group B match after falling to the ground with no other player around him.

The fixture was originally suspended, but Eriksen was later confirmed to be "awake" and the game resumed a little under two hours later, with Finland winning 1-0 in Copenhagen.

The Danish Football Union (DBU) provided a further update early on Sunday confirming Eriksen was in a stable condition pending further examinations, while team doctor Morten Boesen later revealed he had suffered a cardiac arrest.

Boesen said the 29-year-old "was gone" before being resuscitated.

The players only agreed to finish the game once they had been assured Eriksen was in a comfortable condition, with Hjulmand revealing after the game that they had also been given the option of resuming the match on Sunday. 

Speaking at a media conference on Sunday, Hjulmand said it was not right that his players finished the game so soon after going through such a traumatic experience.

"No, we should not have played," Hjulmand said.

"Players have different reactions to shocks and trauma but we'll try to get back to normal as much as possible.

"I get the feeling from the players that maybe the time is too short to try to play football again, but maybe we can use it as a force to get together and try to go out and do our best in the next match."

Meanwhile, former Denmark international Peter Schmeichel, father of current goalkeeper Kasper, said UEFA's stance lacked "compassion". 

"They should have tried to work out a different scenario and shown a little bit of compassion, and they didn't," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

"That would be the worst two hours of my time in football. Something terrible like that happens and UEFA gives the players an option to go out and play the game or come back at midday on Sunday. What kind of option is that?

"The result of the game is completely irrelevant. I mean, how can you play?"

Austria finally registered a first European Championship win at the seventh attempt as they ruined North Macedonia's first outing at a major tournament with a 3-1 triumph in Bucharest.

Substitutes Michael Gregoritsch and Marko Arnautovic both scored in the final 12 minutes to make sure Franco Foda's side claimed all three points from the Group C tussle.

After fellow debutants Finland recorded a 1-0 triumph over Denmark on Saturday, North Macedonia had appeared on course to mark their maiden appearance with a point against opponents who beat them twice in qualifying.

Having struck in the second leg to see off Georgia in the play-offs and secure a spot at Euro 2020, Goran Pandev became the second oldest scorer in the competition's history when he capitalised on an unexpected opportunity to tap in an equaliser.

Goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann failed to hold on when sliding out to grab the ball ahead of Aleksandar Trajkovski, a three-way collision also involving David Alaba allowing the ever-alert Pandev to convert into an unguarded net with his team's first attempt.

Austria had opened the scoring with an eye-catching goal, Marcel Sabitzer's raking pass finding the advancing Stefan Lainer, who showed impressive attacking instincts for a defender with a side-footed volley from a tight angle that flashed beyond Stole Dimitrievski.

There was not so much to admire about the build-up play and finish for North Macedonia's equaliser, not that they cared too much.

Arnautovic was summoned from the bench early in the second half to try and inspire Austria, though it was fellow replacement Gregoritsch who scored the game's crucial third goal, the Augsburg forward making a near-post run to apply the finishing touch to Alaba's inviting cross from the left flank. 
 
Any hope of a tiring North Macedonia rallying for a second time disappeared when Arnautovic went clean through in the 89th minute, calmly rounding Dimitrievski to wrap up the victory. 

What's next?

Both teams are back in action on Thursday. North Macedonia will be remaining in Bucharest for their second fixture, against Ukraine. Austria, meanwhile, move on to Amsterdam to take on the Netherlands.

Luis Enrique has insisted Spain do not have a lack of leaders in their group in the absence of captain Sergio Busquets.

Barcelona midfielder Busquets will miss Spain's opening Euro 2020 match against Sweden in Seville on Monday after testing positive for coronavirus.

The 32-year-old is one of the key figureheads in La Roja's squad, which is the youngest in the tournament, but Luis Enrique is confident others – including himself – can fill the void.

"We do not lack leadership," he said at a news conference ahead of Spain's Group E opener against Sweden on Monday. 

"The 23 others are going to lead because they are the ones that make the decisions on the pitch. 

"I'm going to lead from the sidelines, too, as all coaches do. If a coach doesn't lead, that's a bad sign.

"But in this national team everyone has to lead on the field. They have to carry this out. Our strength is the group and we are prepared."

Spain have won only one of their last five opening matches at a major tournament, beating the Czech Republic 1-0 at Euro 2016.

La Roja's last game at a tournament was their last-16 defeat to Russia on penalties at the 2018 World Cup, but Luis Enrique is optimistic of success at Euro 2020. 

"I'm not worried – we are ready," he said. "Until the contrary is proven, I'll continue to think we can compete at the highest level.

"What I'm telling you is not a lie; I really believe it. I'm still confident.

"Our match plan will always be the same. We have clear objectives in attack, to generate as many chances as possible and to dominate the rival.

"When defending we must press as high as possible to win the ball back. I hope that come tomorrow night we can find a good rhythm and maintain our levels."

Sweden are taking part in their seventh European Championship finals and enter the tournament on a five-match winning run that has seen them keep four clean sheets.

Luis Enrique is expecting a tough opening test at Estadio Olimpico de la Cartuja before meetings with Slovakia and Poland.

"Sweden are a team that play direct. They have strong, quality players, even if they are going to be without Dejan Kulusevski," the Spain head coach said.

"We are going to try to focus on our strongest areas.

"The first game helps set the pulse for the competition. It is not easy for many reasons, but we are hopeful we can be at our best."

There are question marks over who will start in goal for Spain, though Luis Enrique is not giving anything away in terms of team selection on the eve of the match.

"David de Gea, Robert Sanchez or Unai Simon – one of those will play," he said.

Monday's meeting will be the fourth between the two sides at a major tournament, with Spain winning twice – most recently at Euro 2008 – and Sweden winning the other.

Scotland are this year making their first appearance in a European Championship since 1996, but they face one of the tournament's staple sides in the Czech Republic.

While the Czechs are not the force they once were during the mid-2000s, they are taking part in their 10th Euro (Czechoslovakia included), including their seventh in a row – an uninterrupted streak since 1996.

Only Germany (13) and France (eight) are currently on longer such runs, but, surprisingly, Scotland and the Czech Republic have never met in a major tournament.

The omens are good for Steve Clarke's team, however, as Scotland have won each of their last three matches against the Czech Republic, their longest current winning run against any of the other 23 nations qualified for Euro 2020.

Featuring in Group D alongside England and Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic may be the most likely teams to be fighting it out for third place.

Clarke is anticipating a tough test, with the Czech Republic possessing some quality players such as Bayer Leverkusen striker Patrik Schick and West Ham duo Vladimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek.

"The Czech Republic give us different problems to England and Croatia, so that can have a bearing on selection, but I am pretty settled [on the team]," he said.

"The good thing for me is that no matter who I select, I expect them all to be fantastic for their country. As a manager or a coach, that's a big thing that you can trust all your players."

"In our last away game against Scotland, we had many opportunities that we didn't take, and the opponent punished us with a single goal," Clarke's counterpart Jaroslav Silhavy said. 

"I think it may be third time lucky. We will get there."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Scotland – John McGinn

Including the play-offs, Aston Villa midfielder McGinn was directly involved in over half of Scotland's goals in Euro 2020 qualifying, scoring seven and assisting two of the Tartan Army's 17 strikes. He has enjoyed another fine season in the Premier League, and will be out to prove himself on the biggest stage.

Czech Republic – Tomas Soucek

The Czech Republic scored 54 per cent of their goals in the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign from set-pieces (seven out of 13), the joint-highest ratio (including penalties) of any side to qualify for the tournament (level with Hungary). West Ham star Soucek is a real set-piece threat, having netted three headers in the league in 2020-21, while four of his 10 goals came from set-pieces.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Scotland have failed to score in four of their six previous European Championship matches, though they have also kept a clean sheet in three of their six games in the competition.

- Since the Czech Republic reached the European Championship final in 1996 (1-2 vs Germany), they have been knocked out in the group stages in four of their six appearances at major tournaments (World Cup and Euros).

- This will be Scotland’s 11th appearance at a major tournament (World Cup and Euros), including their first Euro participation since 1996. They have never progressed past the group stages in any of their previous 10.

- Scotland became the first team to qualify for the European Championships despite losing as many as five games in their qualifying group. They were also the only team in the qualifiers to register a negative goal difference (-3) among the 24 nations to have reached the finals (including play-off games).

- The Czech Republic have lost six of their last nine games at the European Championship (W2 D1), as many defeats as they suffered in their previous 22 such fixtures beforehand. They have also only drawn one of their last 19 games at the tournament, a 2-2 stalemate against Croatia in the 2016 group stages (W8 L10).

Kylian Mbappe has insisted he has never asked Paris Saint-Germain to sign any players in response to recent comments made by president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

The 22-year-old's future at the Parc des Princes remains a hot topic of discussion as he is soon to enter the final year of his contract.

He did little to quell speculation earlier this week in an interview with France Football when admitting he is unsure whether PSG is the best place for him.

That comes on the back of rumours that Mbappe is stalling on signing a new contract until more high-profile signings are made by last season's Ligue 1 runners-up.

In response to that, Al-Khelaifi stated earlier this week "it is not possible" for Mbappe to have any say over the club's recruitment and that he will not be sold in the current transfer window.

When asked about those comments at a news conference while on France duty, Mbappe denied ever discussing transfer targets with Al-Khelaifi or director Leonardo.

"I have never asked for a single player from the president or Leonardo. I am a simple football player," he told reporters on Sunday ahead of France's Euro 2020 opener against Germany.

"But I'm here to represent France – the team is the most important thing. I don't want to disrupt the group."

Mbappe is coming off the back of another impressive campaign for PSG in which he scored 42 goals in 47 appearances in all competitions, an average of one every 88.62 minutes.

In Europe's top five leagues, only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (48) scored more goals in all competitions than Mbappe in 2020-21.

Mbappe scored at a greater rate than his expected goals (xG) number, which averaged out at 34.14, while also providing 11 assists.

He is expected to start France's Group F showdown with Germany at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday.

Les Blues are taking part in their 10th European Championship finals, and their eighth in a row, last failing to make the competition in 1988.

Only Germany and Spain (three each) have won more European Championships than the two won by France in 1984 and 2000.

Kylian Mbappe was left disappointed by Olivier Giroud's comments over a perceived lack of service, though he insists the situation between the pair will not overshadow France's bid for glory at Euro 2020.

The reigning world champions kick off their campaign in the delayed tournament on Tuesday, as they take on Group F rivals Germany at the Allianz Arena in Munich.

Les Bleus recorded successive 3-0 wins in warm-up fixtures against Wales and Bulgaria, Giroud scoring twice against the latter after coming on as a substitute.

However, the Chelsea striker – who now has 46 international goals, just five behind Thierry Henry in the country's all-time scoring list – said in a post-match press conference that he did not feel team-mates had looked for him enough when in possession.

His remarks were perceived to be aimed at Mbappe - the pair completed just one pass between each other during their time together on the pitch – and the 22-year-old had the opportunity to respond on Sunday, having been denied the opportunity to speak to the media earlier in the week.

"We talked about it, we discussed it, it made people talk, everyone knows what happened. I was a little affected, but we are not going to make a big deal out of it," Mbappe said.

"The team remains the most important thing, such situations are not going to disrupt our preparation. We are focused on the same objective."

Asked again about the relationship between the pair, the Paris Saint-Germain forward made clear he was not happy with Giroud airing his feelings to the media, rather than in the changing room after the friendly fixture.

"What he said didn't bother me more than that, I'm a striker and I've had this feeling 365 times in a game," Mbappe continued.

"I congratulated him in the locker room, he didn't say anything to me and then I heard from the press. He didn't say anything bad. It's more the fact of him talking publicly, I would have preferred him to come and be more open in the locker room.

"But that's not a problem, these are small things. The team does not need us to get in the way."

He added: "The most important thing is to talk about it, to straighten things out and put it all after the group.

"I repeat, the most important thing is the group and this European Championship. This micro-episode disturbed the fact that we are focused on one thing and one thing only, it is the Euros and this first match against Germany."

Mbappe made clear that while he may not pass the ball as often to Giroud during games as, for example, France team-mate Karim Benzema or PSG colleague Neymar, that is due to situational factors, rather than any personal preference.

"Neymar touches the ball 150 times per game. Benzema touches it 80. Olivier touches it a lot less given his profile. If you compare the number of passes I make to Benzema or Neymar compared to Giroud, of course it is fewer to Olivier," he said.

"But that doesn't mean that I don't look for him. It's just that his profile is different. Benzema comes 40 metres from the goal to get touches, Giroud prefers to stay up front and be present in the box.

"You imply that I do not want to pass to Giroud. I say that these players have different profiles."

Towards the end of a fairly torrid first 15 minutes at Wembley for Croatia, Mateo Kovacic shuffled away from his penalty area with the ball at his feet and boos swelled up.

It was notable that the England supporters had not had cause to goad any significant spell of Croatian possession up until that point. Still, on Kovacic went and found the normally sure-footed Marcelo Brozovic, who duffed the ball out of play.

England gained a measure of revenge for their World Cup semi-final defeat to these opponents three years ago in the 2018-19 Nations League, but the more comparable stakes of this Euro 2020 opener meant talk of a rematch dominated the build-up.

In Moscow, Luka Modric and his midfield cohort deftly cut away England's early advantage via a thousand passes (well, 594 if we're being sticklers for the statistics over 120 minutes) to reach the final.

The spectacle of the Three Lions surrendering central areas to a technically proficient team was very familiar, for all that Gareth Southgate's side threatened a new beginning.

In the interim period, particularly the 12-month delay to the start of this tournament, the England manager has churned through plenty of squad turnover, with fresh faces not scarred by that agonising near-miss.

But new men repeating old mistakes is no way to end 55 years of hurt, and there was something of that in the much-discussed team sheet that Southgate produced.

Vibrant attacking talents such as Jack Grealish and Jadon Sancho – the latter not even making the bench – having to look on as a two-man defensive midfield shield lined up, were unpopular notes of caution at a time of national fervour.

Yorkshire Pirlo purrs on the big stage

But having Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips manning central areas was key to passages of play such as Kovacic and Brozovic's ponderous exchange unfolding, as Phil Foden rattled the post and England threatened to fly out of the blocks.

Modric dropped deep to apply a measure of control before the interval and Chelsea's Kovacic found a smooth rhythm, but not to the extent they escaped Phillips. Freed from his usual holding role, the Leeds United man was everywhere – even flagged offside, something that never happened to him during the whole 2020-21 domestic season.

 

From the Stockport Iniesta to the Yorkshire Pirlo, this England team have their share of daft nudge-wink nicknames (shhhh, Modric might think they're being arrogant) but Phillips did all he could to live up to his, completing 95 per cent of his passes in the opposition half.

Bolstered by Mason Mount's clever movement and use of the ball, Croatia's midfield maestros were never allowed to enjoy Wembley's vast expanses.

That is not to say everything Southgate plumped for worked. Harry Kane was a worryingly marginal presence and only had two touches in the Croatia box. With one of those, he failed to convert at the back post when found by a brilliant Mount cross – the sort of first-time delivery usually not available as Kieran Trippier, the right-back playing at left-back, who checked back on to his stronger foot time and again.

But arguably Southgate's most disputed call proved decisive.

Sterling sounds righteous roar for Three Lions

Amid clamour for the dazzling Grealish to be unleashed, popular opinion had turned against Raheem Sterling's presence in the England attack. As Manchester City claimed a third Premier League title in four seasons, he became an unusually bit-part player for Pep Guardiola. His outing in the Champions League final defeat against Chelsea in Porto did plenty to explain why.

The 26-year-old has one goal for his club since February but has been a mainstay for Southgate, who chose to reward those performances. Since the last World Cup, Sterling's 12 goals and six assists were second only to Kane, while no England player had more than his 11 from open play.

Even when he is not in top form, Sterling makes life hell for defenders. On a sweltering day at the national stadium that overlooks his childhood home, he did not stop. His 12 duels contested were more than any team-mate and he forced a promising first-half free-kick from which Trippier hit the wall.

 

As the hour approached, Sterling was still without a goal for England in a major tournament. Then Phillips strode through midfield with poise and power to pick out the forward, who held his nerve to pouch a 1-0 victory.

"I've always said, if I'm playing at Wembley in a major tournament – my back garden – then I'm scoring," the beaming matchwinner told BBC Sport afterwards.

In the wider context of this game, there could not be a more fitting match-winner for a team taking a knee and taking a stand for positive change.

Sterling has been at the forefront of these conversations since calling out unequal media coverage for white and black players in December 2018, the day after he was abused from the stands in a match at Chelsea.

A year earlier, he was attacked outside City's training ground by a man who received prison time for kicking him and hurling racist abuse ahead of a game against Tottenham. Sterling scored twice in a 4-1 win.

He also scored for England while targeted by monkey chants in Montenegro and Bulgaria in 2019. With dignity and eloquence, Sterling has been at his best when faced with the worst of this sport. His roar of righteous joy back on home turf was richly deserved.

Page 1 of 12
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.