Yesterday: Netherlands 3 – 0 Italy | Today: Spain 4 – 1 Russia
Two of the tournament favourites kicked off their Euro 2008 campaigns with clinical victories over their opposition. Yesterday evening, the Netherlands team clinically demolished World Cup Champions and highly-rated Italy, and in no uncertain terms. They slotted in 3 goals past one of the most stingiest defence in the world. The match was a highly anticipated one and rightly so, given the composition of group C. With Romania and France having drawn their game, the winner of this game would head the group and have some sorta boost towards progression. The Neds started off well with smooth passes and quick counter-attack moves whilst the Italians were made to sweat. The midfield of Netherlands is so much stronger than the Italians and this showed as the Azzurri struggled to string together winning passes. Netherlands opened the scoring via a contentious goal from Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Wesley Sneijder slotted in a beautiful second 5 minutes later. Italy’s did manage to carve out few chances but either the finishing touch was lacking or the Dutch keeper was saving them finely! The scoreline ended at 3-0 with a Giovanni Von Bronckhorst header ten minutes from time.
Today’s match between Spain and Russia saw a hat-trick from striker David Villa. Coming into the tournament, Fernando Torres was hailed as the marksman to watch out for…but his strike partner showed that he’s no less lethal a force. Torres set up the first goal with a neat flick-on that Villa slotted in comfortably and then added a second on the stroke of halftime. A neat splitting pass from Fabregas found Villa with the Russian ‘keeper & three defenders to beat, and he did that just comfortably to complete the first hat-trick of Euro 2008. Pavlychenko headed in a consolation goal for Russia from a corner but Spain had just enough time to slot in a fourth – courtesy Cesc Fabregas who was in the right position to head-in after the ‘keeper had palmed off a Xavi shot.
With these two matches, Netherlands and Spain are suddenly the new Championship favourites! Of Course, Germany and Portugal have also chalked up wins…but nowhere as efficiently as these two teams! Buck Up Italy!!!
Pix Courtesy: BBC Sport