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By Sports Desk February 15, 2021

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  • Poland 1-2 Netherlands: Weghorst the hero in comeback win for the Dutch Poland 1-2 Netherlands: Weghorst the hero in comeback win for the Dutch

    The Netherlands came from behind to beat Poland and start their Euro 2024 campaign with a 2-1 victory in Hamburg. 

    Substitute Wout Weghorst completed the turnaround for the Oranje late on, having gone behind to Adam Buksa's early effort. 

    The Poles would settle quicker than their opponents, and took the lead in the 16th minute as Buska rose highest to meet Piotr Zielinski's delivery into the box, the third consecutive goal the Netherlands have conceded from a corner kick, as many as in their previous 83 conceded goals.

    Despite record top-scorer Robert Lewandowski watching on from the bench, he would have been pleased by his side's start to the contest as they aimed to secure their first win over their opponents since 1980. 

    However, Gakpo hauled the Netherlands level with the aid of a deflection from Bartosz Salamon, his effort bouncing over the helpless Wojciech Szczesny. 

    Both sides continued to exchange blows in their search for an important three points ahead of France's meeting with Austria in Dusseldorf on Monday.

    But with seven minutes of the contest remaining, Weghorst emerged from the bench to score his seventh goal in his last 11 international appearances, finishing smartly after being picked out by Nathan Ake inside the box. 

    Data Debrief: Weghorst to the rescue as the Netherlands continue Poland streak

    Gakpo's strike took him into double figures for his nation, and he has now scored in each of his last four group stage games at the European Championships and World Cup, becoming the third European player to do so this century, after Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata.

    Poland are now winless in their last 13 meetings with the Netherlands in all competitions (D5 L8), since a 2-0 home win in EURO 1980 qualifying.

     

  • Euro 2024 data dive: Goals galore on historic day at European Championships Euro 2024 data dive: Goals galore on historic day at European Championships

    After Germany's 5-1 win over Scotland in the Euro 2024 opener, the goals continued to fly in on a busy day of action on Saturday.

    Records were broken as Spain beat Croatia 3-0 and reigning champions Italy came from behind to beat Albania 2-1.

    Switzerland also dispatched Hungary 3-1 in the other Group A meeting to ensure things are finely poised going into the second round of matches.

    The 16 goals scored through the opening four matches of Euro 2024 so far are the most netted at this point of a European Championships or World Cup since Euro '76 (19).

    Using Opta data, we take a look at some of the other standout statistics from Saturday's action in Germany.

    Hungary 1-3 Switzerland: Swiss start in style

    Switzerland have only lost one of their last 15 games across all competitions (W7 D7), a 1-0 defeat to Romania in November 2023, after opening their Group A campaign with a 3-1 victory over Hungary.

    It was a tale of two emphatic maiden performances for the Swiss as Kwadwo Duah and Michel Aebischer became only the third and fourth players to score on their European Championship debut for Switzerland.

    That first-half dominance saw both players score their first-ever senior international goal, too, in what was Duah's second appearance and Aebischer's 21st for Switzerland.

    Aebischer also teed up Duah's well-taken opener in Cologne as the full-back became the first Switzerland player ever to both score and assist a goal in the same match at the Euros.

    Barnabas Varga – who became the fifth Hungarian to score on his European Championship debut – pulled one back with his seventh goal in his last 10 international appearances, with assisted help from Hungary's ever-reliant Dominik Szoboszlai.

    Since the start of 2023, Liverpool midfielder Szoboszlai has had a hand in 10 goals across 15 international appearances (six goals, four assists), though the Hungary captain could not stop a familiar European fate for Marco Rossi's men.

    Breel Embolo's cool, late lob sealed victory to leave Hungary with just two wins from their 12 matches at the European Championships (D4 L6), a win rate of 17 per cent. Among nations with five-plus games at the finals, only Romania (six per cent) and Poland (14 per cent) have a lower success ratio.

    This win also marked a special moment for Ricardo Rodriguez, who appeared for a 22nd game at a major international tournament (Euros/World Cup) – the outright most of any player for the nation.

     

    Spain 3-0 Croatia: Young guns steal spotlight

    Spain got a statement win against Croatia in their Euro 2024 opener, beginning a European Championship tournament with a victory by 3+ goals for just the second time, after their 4-1 win against Russia on MD1 of Euro 2008.

    The spotlight was shining on Lamine Yamal, who became the youngest-ever player to feature at the Euros, capping his historic appearance for La Roja with an assist for Dani Carvajal, who became Spain's oldest-ever goalscorer in the competition at 32 years and 156 days, on the stroke of half-time.

    In Yamal (16y 338d) and Pedri (21y 203d), Spain are the first side to have at least two players aged 21 or under create at least three chances for a side in a game at the Euros since Germany against Czechia in June 2004 (Phillip Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski).

    Fifteen years Yamal's senior, Morata became Spain's outright second-highest goalscorer at major international tournaments with 10, and needs only three more to equal David Villa's record of 13.

    It was not the dominant performance people have come to expect from Spain though, as they had less possession than their opponents (47 per cent) for the first time in a competitive match since the Euro 2008 final, which they won against Germany (46 per cent), ending a run of 136 such matches where they had the majority of the ball.

    On the opposite side of the field, Luka Modric became the oldest player since Lothar Matthaus to appear in the European Championships at 38y 280d, but his experience could not prevent Croatia from suffering their joint-heaviest ever defeat at a major international tournament following 3-0 defeats to Portugal at Euro 1996 and Argentina at the 2022 World Cup.

    The Croatia captain also became just the third European player to appear in as many as nine separate editions of major international tournaments, after Matthaus (nine) and Cristiano Ronaldo (10, before Euro 2024).

    Italy 2-1 Albania: Azzurri nightmare soon turns into dream start

    As the reigning champions, Italy would have been fearing the worst after conceding the fastest goal in Euros history – Nedim Bajrami scored after just 23 seconds when Federico Dimarco gifted him a throw-in.

    However, Alessandro Bastoni's 11th-minute equaliser soon settled the nerves, with this the third-earliest time a game at the European Championships has seen both teams score, after Iceland v England in 2016 (sixth minute) and Russia v Spain in 1964 (eighth minute).

    The turnaround was complete with Nicolo Barella's 10th strike for the national side, and his goal-scoring touch proved golden once more – Italy have won all 10 games in which he has found the back of the net.

    Despite not getting on the scoresheet for the Azzurri, Federico Chiesa also impressed as he became the first player at the Euros to record at least three shots, three successful dribbles (four) and win possession in the final third at least three times since Denmark's Mikkel Damsgaard against Belgium in June 2021.

    Albania's goal came from their only shot on target in the match, though it means they have now scored in back-to-back games in the competition for the first time. Now, they need to find just their second-ever win at this tournament against Croatia on Wednesday.

    The Eagles will be glad to see the back of Italy having lost all five of their previous meetings with them in all competitions. However, only three teams have ever beaten them more times, with Spain, who they face in their final group game, topping that list (eight).

  • Spalletti laments Italy attacking bravery despite Euro 2024 opening win Spalletti laments Italy attacking bravery despite Euro 2024 opening win

    Luciano Spalletti warned Italy must show more intent to attack despite their 2-1 comeback victory over Albania in Saturday's Euro 2024 victory.

    Italy won their opening match at the European Championships for a third straight time (also in 2016 and 2020 editions), after doing so only twice in their first eight such appearances (D5 L1).

    The Azzurri needed a fightback performance, however, after falling behind Nedim Bajrami's thumping strike after 23 seconds for Albania against Italy, the fastest goal ever scored in Euros history.

    Alessandro Bastoni headed level soon after, though, before Nicolo Barella's 10th international goal proved the difference to send Italy level on points with Spain at the top of Group B.

    Yet Spalletti was far from impressed with parts of Italy's game despite the Azzurri becoming just the third side to score in 10 successive Euros outings, after England in 2012 (11) and Portugal in 2004 (10).

    "We saw many good things, but they need to actually take us somewhere, otherwise they are pointless," the Italy head coach told RAI Sport.

    "There was the possibility to hurt them several times and we didn't go for it.

    "We prepared the move well, then passed it backwards. We changed our minds too quickly."

    Barella was a doubt after missing both warm-up friendlies but returned with vengeance to guide his side to victory.

    Spalletti grew frustrated when asked if Italy are reliant on midfield maestro Barella, however.

    "A national team must be able to do without anyone, because there are 26 strong players," Spalletti responded to questioning over the Inter star's influence.

    "I don't like this idea that the team depends on an individual."

    Barella, meanwhile, was delighted with Italy's response to Albania's record-breaking opener.

    "It was a bit of a strange start, an opening goal after 23 seconds could really hurt the players psychologically," Barella told Sky Sport Italia.

    "However, we wanted this victory, we should've scored more goals and fell away a bit at the end, but we started on the right foot with this win."

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