— UEFA EURO 2016 (@UEFAEURO) June 11, 2016
Switzerland managed to snatch a 1-0 victory over Albania in the first of the three games of match-day 2.
Swiss defender Fabian Schär scored the only goal of the game after just 5 minutes. The 24-year-old center-back met Xherdan Shaqiri’s corner kick with a header, slotting the ball into goal – which was left wide open by Albanian goalkeeper Etrit Berisha as he unsuccessfully charged forward to punch the ball away.
Having gone a goal down in the early stages of the game, the Albanians received yet another major blow half an hour later, as their captain Lorik Cana got sent off after receiving a second yellow card for a handball in the 37th minute.
Granit Xhaka and his elder sibling Taulant Xhaka became the first ever brothers to play on opposing sides at the European Championship, but it was Granit who stole the show by putting in a solid performance for Switzerland.
Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic had his say on the game: “I was not afraid of losing our lead, but we should have scored more. We will be mentally stronger after coming through this. The first 20 minutes were very important and very good. After that, we played backwards too much and allowed them back into the game.”
Albania coach Giovanni De Biasi highlighted the key moments of game which ultimately led to his team’s loss: “The key moments of the game were the goal from Fabian Schar, the dismissal of Lorik Cana and our three misses from close range that could have changed the game. The red card really changed the balance of the game. We had to change our approach.”
Wales marked their return to the major international tournaments after a 58-year absence by defeating Slovakia 2-1 in the second game of match-day 2.
It was none other than Gareth Bale who opened the scoring for Wales in the 10th minute with a dipping free kick that absolutely bamboozled Slovakia goalkeeper Matúš Kozáčik. It was a Déjà Vu moment for the Real Madrid star, as his first ever goal for Wales also came from a direct free-kick against Slovakia, back in October 2006.
In the second half, right after the 60-minute mark, Slovakia’s 21-year-old midfielder Ondrej Duda equalized just 52 seconds after coming off the bench, by taking advantage of a passive Welsh defence. However, it was Wales’ substitute who had the last laugh, as striker Hal Robson-Kanu scored the winner for his country in the 81st minute.
Welsh star man Gareth Bale thanked the traveling supporters, and also had his say on the two goals scored by his team: “What can I say, it was like a home game. Our fans are the best in the world and fully got behind us. We gave them something to celebrate.
“The (free kick) goal is right up there. A memorable moment, a historic moment for our country. The most important thing is we got the three points. Hal to get the winner is amazing. The subs have to make an impact and he was amazing when he came on. Everyone has a part to play and we will keep fighting.”
Wales manager Chris Coleman was also ecstatic following their victory, and speaking to BBC One, he said: “I think it is my proudest moment. Our supporters keep on topping what they have done – that support today was unbelievable. When Slovakia got the equaliser, they were looking strong – they’re a good team, physical and play good football.
“In the second half the fans sensed we were a bit jaded and sitting back a bit. We came back and they got right behind us. Our boys showed passion and courage to come back. It was incredible attitude and mentality.”
Russia clinched a 1-1 draw against England thanks to a late goal, in the final game of match-day 2.
England were the dominant side since the beginning of the game, and the Three Lions were rewarded for their dominance with a goal by Eric Dier, who scored a peach of a free kick from 20 yards out in the 73rd minute.
Roy Hodgson’s team looked set to begin their European campaign with a win, but Russian defender Vasili Berezutski made sure that wasn’t the case, as he soared above Danny Rose at the far post and met with Georgi Schennikov’s header to put the ball into the back of the net in the 92nd minute of the game.
England manager Roy Hodgson expressed his disappointment over conceding a last-minute goal by stating: “When you concede with a minute left, it is a bitter disappointment. After one dodgy spell at the start of the second half, if we take away that 15 minutes, we were in total control.
“I would have been happy with 1-0. At least it wasn’t a glaring error but we go away with a draw rather than a victory. I thought we played well. It feels like defeat because we were preparing to celebrate a victory and we don’t have that possibility now.”
Many believe Roy Hodgson’s decision of taking Captain Wayne Rooney off, and replacing him with Jack Wilshere, was what eventually cost England the game, especially considering the man of the match display the Manchester United man put in.
Wayne Rooney also had in say in the post-match interview, where he commented: “I think we played well but we didn’t take our chances. The lads are disappointed not to get the win but we can take a lot of positives. We looked solid for 90 minutes. The performance was worthy of the win.
“We knew Russia had a danger man with the big lad up front. He’s going to win headers and unfortunately they got a goal from it. It is still a point and we have to move on.”