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Piqué pounces for late Spain win

Published: Monday 13 June 2016, 16.49CET
Spain 1-0 Czech Republic
Gerard Piqué's towering 87th-minute header ensured Spain began their title defence with a victory in Group D.
by Paul Saffer at Stadium de Toulouse

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Match statistics

SpainCzech Republic

Goals scored1
 
0
Possession (%)67
 
33
Total attempts17
 
7
on target5
 
3
off target8
 
1
blocked4
 
3
against woodwork0
 
0
Corners14
 
3
Offsides7
 
1
Yellow cards0
1
Red Cards0
 
0
Fouls committed11
 
12
Fouls suffered11
 
10

Standings

Legend:

P: Played   
Pts: Points   
Last updated: 16/06/2017 10:40 CET
SSI Err
Published: Monday 13 June 2016, 16.49CET

Piqué pounces for late Spain win

Spain 1-0 Czech Republic
Gerard Piqué's towering 87th-minute header ensured Spain began their title defence with a victory in Group D.


Spain's bid for a third straight UEFA EURO title began with a dramatic Group D victory as Gerard Piqué's towering 87th-minute header ensured they found a way past the Czech Republic.

Andrés Iniesta's inswinging cross was met by the head of his Barcelona colleague just when it seemed the points were to be shared. The Czech defence were missing the suspended Marek Suchý but coach Pavel Vrba set up a cautious selection with effectively six at the rear. Whenever Spain had the ball, both wingers withdrew to outflank the full-backs – and it so nearly worked.

Petr Čech was alert to all first-half danger when a Spain team with Iniesta pulling the strings did break through, though moments before half-time David de Gea, preferred to Iker Casillas, did have to block from Tomáš Necid on the counterattack. Right at the start of the second half there were more fantastic saves from Čech and Ladislav Krejčí's brilliant saving tackle looked to have secured a point. Piqué had other ideas.

Man of the match: Andrés Iniesta (Spain)
Even if he hadn't made the goal, Iniesta would have been the obvious choice after carving out five opportunities. He completed 85 of his 93 passes and, with 46 of those delivered in the attacking third, the No6 was always the instigator of Spanish danger.

Immovable object almost holds off irresistible force
Spain had more than two-thirds of the possession and a far higher percentage of the attacks. Yet Vrba got his tactics virtually spot on and his players gave absolutely everything to keep the champions out. While things did not quite work out in the end, this is not a team that will be easily beaten.

Piqué: Spain deserved the three points

Spain's finishing touch
Iniesta conducted Spain's play with his usual aplomb but something was missing as the passing moves lacked an incisive touch at the finish. A high cross and strong header made the difference late on, suggesting Spain have more than one trick up their not-insignificant sleeve.

Best of Čech
While Spain left their centurion goalkeeper on the bench, Čech – on his 122nd appearance for his country – can seldom have played better, even by his stellar standards. He was unlucky not to keep a clean sheet, having failed to do so in any of the nine qualifiers he played.

Team reporters' views from the Stadium de Toulouse

Graham Hunter, Spain (@BumperGraham)
Arguably a 2-0 or 3-1 disguised as a 1-0 victory. They call it the 'minimum win' in Spain but that's not what this was. Vicente del Bosque's men were confident and fluent from the start but, importantly, maturing all the time and neither panicking when the chances didn't go in nor beginning to feel they had to settle for the stalemate as full time neared.

The sight of Spain throwing both centre-backs forward in the last five minutes – meaning that if Piqué had missed then Ramos would have converted – says a lot about their mentality. Kudos to Cesc Fàbregas too for saving a goal during the Czechs' best moment. The champions are on the move. 

Ondřej Zlámal, Czech Republic (@UEFAcomOndrejZ)
Vrba's plan worked right up until the closing stages, and this was a brave rearguard action from the Czechs who came very close to a very good result. Their game plan against Croatia will definitely involve more attacking instructions.

Last updated: 12/07/16 17.50CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/season=2016/matches/round=2000448/match=2017883/postmatch/report/index.html#pique+pounces+spain

Lineups

Spain

Spain

Czech Republic

Czech Republic

13
De GeaDavid de Gea (GK)
1
ČechPetr Čech (GK)
3
PiquéGerard Piqué
Goal87
2
KadeřábekPavel Kadeřábek
5
BusquetsSergio Busquets
4
Gebre SelassieTheodor Gebre Selassie
Substitution86
6
IniestaAndrés Iniesta
5
HubníkRoman Hubník
7
MorataÁlvaro Morata
Substitution62
6
SivokTomáš Sivok
10
FàbregasCesc Fàbregas
Substitution70
7
NecidTomáš Necid
Substitution75
15
RamosSergio Ramos (C)
8
LimberskýDavid Limberský
Yellow Card61
16
JuanfranJuanfran
10
RosickýTomáš Rosický (C)
Substitution88
18
Jordi AlbaJordi Alba
13
PlašilJaroslav Plašil
21
SilvaDavid Silva
19
KrejčíLadislav Krejčí
22
NolitoNolito
Substitution82
22
DaridaVladimír Darida

Substitutes

1
CasillasIker Casillas (GK)
16
VaclíkTomáš Vaclík (GK)
23
RicoSergio Rico (GK)
23
KoubekTomáš Koubek (GK)
2
AzpilicuetaCésar Azpilicueta
3
KadlecMichal Kadlec
4
BartraMarc Bartra
9
DočkalBořek Dočkal
8
KokeKoke
11
PudilDaniel Pudil
9
Lucas VázquezLucas Vázquez
12
ŠkodaMilan Škoda
11
Pedro RodríguezPedro Rodríguez
Substitution82
14
KolářDaniel Kolář
12
BellerínHéctor Bellerín
15
PavelkaDavid Pavelka
Substitution88
14
Thiago AlcántaraThiago Alcántara
Substitution70
18
ŠuralJosef Šural
Substitution86
17
San JoséMikel San José
20
SkalákJiří Skalák
19
Bruno SorianoBruno Soriano
21
LafataDavid Lafata
Substitution75
20
Aritz AdurizAritz Aduriz
Substitution62

Coach

Vicente del Bosque (ESP) Pavel Vrba (CZE)

Referee

Szymon Marciniak (POL)

Assistant referees

Paweł Sokolnicki (POL), Tomasz Listkiewicz (POL)

Fourth official

Aleksei Kulbakov (BLR)

Additional assistant referees

Paweł Raczkowski (POL), Tomasz Musiał (POL)

Legend:

  • GoalsGoals
  • Own goalOwn goal
  • PenaltiesPenalties
  • Missed PenaltiesMissed Penalties
  • reds_cardRed Cards
  • yellow_cardsYellow cards
  • yellow_red_cardsYellow/red card
  • SubstitutionSubstitution