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Euro 2020 at a glance : Lukaku stars as Belgium conquers Russia , Erikssen scare , Finland gets debut win

It got worse for Russia in second-half stoppage time as Lukaku added a third after Meunier played him through for another slick finish.

The first triple-header day of UEFA EURO 2020 got off Saturday with the second Group A match where Wales held Switzerland to a draw, Finland made a debut win against Denmark in a game which was suspended following Eriksen’s collapse before being re-started.

With doubts about the game between Belgium and Russia in St Petersburg because of events in Copenhagen, the most keenly anticipated match up kicked-off as scheduled after it was given the all-clear by the Danish Football Association who revealed Eriksen was “awake” in hospital.

RESULTS

(Group A)

Wales 1-1 Switzerland 

(Group B)

Denmark 0-1 Finland  

Belgium 3-0 Russia

MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS

Moore header denies the Swiss

– Wales hoped to once again reach for the stars as they kicked off their Group A campaign with the 2020 edition of the Euros against Switzerland side who also made it through the group stage last time out.

– Wales rescued a point against an impressive Switzerland side thanks to Kieffer Moore’s glancing header in Baku.

-The Swiss had won 5 of the sides 7 previous meetings and looked to continue their dominance against the Welsh.

– The two sides were evenly matched in the openly exchanges.

-The scores were level at half time and that seems to be the best Wales could have hoped for having set too deep and allowed Switzerland too much of the ball as they had 68% of the first half possession.

– Swiss pressure paid off soon after the restart as Breel Embolo finally broke the Welsh resistance on 49 minutes with a powerful downward header – his sixth international goal.

– Wales struck back in the 74th minute through Moore’s terrific header.

– The Red Crosses thought they had added a second to their tally but that was denied by the Video Assistant as an off-side before finding the back of the net.

– The match ended with the first ever draw between the two nations.

– There has been at least two goals scored in each last eight meetings between Wales and Switzerland.

– Wales have lost only three of their last 20 international matches.

Finland gets debut win

– Finland beat Denmark in Copenhagen in a match that was significantly delayed following a serious incident involving the hosts’ Christian Eriksen.

– Eriksen collapsed on the pitch and received medical treatment on the pitch, he was then hospitalized but great word came through that the midfielder was in stable condition.

– The game had to be put on hold but players emerged barely after 2 hours to resume play in the Danish capital. 

– Finland were competing in their first ever European Championship and sensationally took the lead early in the second half when Jere Uronen’s cross was headed in by Joel Pohjanpalo.

– Denmark had the chance to equalize but Finnish goalkeeper Lukas Hrádecky saved a Pierre-Emile Højbjerg penalty.

– Finland held on to a dramatic victory in what was a truly emotional night in Copenhagen.

– Finland have scored in their last ten matches across EURO qualifying and the final tournament

– The home side failed to score for the first time in 12 international games.

– Denmark have scored just two goals in their last six opening group stage matches at the finals.

Erikssen scare

– Finland’s win against Denmark was overshadowed by Eriksen collapse.

– Denmark midfielder Eriksen collapsed on the pitch earlier on Saturday in the Group B game with Finland and received emergency treatment on the field.

– Eriksen was then hospitalized but words came through that the Inter Milan midfielder was in stable condition.

– After just under an hour, the contest was resumed, in which Joel Pohjanpalo scored the only goal of the game.

– It was a touching moment as Denmark and Finland fans chant Christian Eriksen’s name after the midfielder suffered huge health scare at the Euro 2020 clash.

Lukaku stars as Belgium conquers Russia

– Belgium got their EURO 2020 campaign off on a high start after easing their way to a 3-0 victory against Russia in St Petersburg.- There were plenty of threats that the Russians had to deal with against star-studded side and one star was Lukaku.

– It did not take long for the Belgian sharp shooter Romelu Lukaku to make his mark.

– Belgium cranked in the pressure and added a second through first-half substitute Thomas Meunier in the 34th minute to give the visitors a commanding lead going into the break.

– The Russians tried to turn up after the restart but that did not threaten Courtois for once.

– It got worse for Russia in second-half stoppage time as Lukaku added a third after Meunier played him through for another slick finish.

– Lukaku’s 62nd international goal silenced the majority of the 34,000 crowd who had booed Belgium for taking a knee against racism before kick-off.

– Meunier became the first player to score a first-half goal as a substitute at the EUROs.

– Russia have never won after falling behind in a EURO game (D2 L10).Russia are six matches without a win at a EURO.

Group B Standings 

 WHAT TO EXPECT TODAY 

England open against Croatia at Wembley before North Macedonia make their finals debut against Austria and the Netherlands host Ukraine in Amsterdam.

England seek revenge against Croatia  – England vs Croatia (Group D, London) 1PM

– England and Croatia replay their FIFA World Cup semi-final to begin Sunday’s UEFA EURO 2020.

– England are seeking a revenge with home advantage.

– Croatia’s extra-time triumph over England three summers ago in Russia was one of only three wins against the Three Lions from ten meetings overall.

– Moreover, since that World Cup, Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić has been able to name an unchanged line-up on just one occasion out of 29 matches.

North Macedonia makes Euro debut against Austria   –  Austria vs North Macedonia (Group C, Bucharest) 4PM

– North Macedonia are the 35th and most recent country to have qualified for a UEFA European Championship, and together with Finland (the 34th new entry) are one of two debutant nations appearing at this event.

– Austria beat North Macedonia twice in qualifying for this tournament, winning 4-1 in Skopje and 2-1 in Vienna. That latter match was in November 2019, though, and Igor Angelovski’s team are a different animal now, having enjoyed an eight-game unbeaten run that straddled 2019 and 2020 before they raised confidence levels further with a stunning European Qualifiers win in Germany in March

The Battle of colours as Netherlands face Ukraine at a major competition for the first time Netherlands vs Ukraine (Group C, Amsterdam) 7PM

– Lovers of the sport will witness today an encounter where colourful national football team kits will be at the center stage. Netherlands ‘Orange’ kit and Ukraine ‘Yellow’ kit.

– This is the Netherlands’ first big tournament since coming third at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the Oranje having missed out on UEFA EURO 2016 and Russia 2018.

– The last time the Dutch emerged from a similar footballing hibernation, they scooped their only international prize at EURO ’88 – following an eight-year absence spanning three major showpiece events.

Acknowledgement: Betway Ghana (Headline Sponsor)

Mark F. | SilverFM

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