Patrik Schick's 2-goal effort against Scotland vaults Czech Republic to top of Group D
Spain held to goal-less draw by Sweden despite dominating possession, chances
Patrik Schick scored twice, including an extraordinary 45-metre effort from just inside the halfway line, to give the Czech Republic a 2-0 win over Scotland in their European Championship opener at Hampden Park in Glasgow on Monday.
The 25-year-old forward put the Czechs in front three minutes before halftime as he towered above two defenders to power home a header, but his second goal seven minutes into the second half will almost certainly be one of the tournament's greatest.
A blocked effort in midfield saw the ball fall to Schick, who spotted Scotland goalkeeper David Marshall off his line and fired an audacious long-range left-footed lob that curled through the air with unerring accuracy to thunder into an empty net.
Scotland manager Steve Clarke refused to blame Marshall and instead heaped praise on Schick.
"If [Marshall] had been on his line he would have caught it but sometimes you have to credit the goalscorer," Clarke told an online news conference after the match.
"He produced a marvellous finish and from there it becomes a difficult afternoon. We showed good invention and had chances to get back into the game but the breaks went against us at the wrong time."
Still thinking about how much curl Patrik Schick put on that lob from halfway 🤯 <a href="https://t.co/1rDPxYeyET">pic.twitter.com/1rDPxYeyET</a>—@brfootball
Schick said he had anticipated he would catch Marshall in no man's land and added the Czechs headed into the game well prepared for Scotland's tactics.
"I saw him [off his line], I checked in the first half when this situation would come," he told the BBC. "I was checking where he was standing."
The win put the Czechs above England, who beat Croatia 1-0 at Wembley on Sunday, at the top of the Group D standings.
Sweden, Spain play to goal-less draw
The chances came and went but neither Spain nor Sweden managed to put any of them in the net Monday in a 0-0 draw at the European Championship.
Spain dominated possession and stayed close to the Swedish net for most of the match but couldn't capitalize on its many scoring opportunities at La Cartuja Stadium.
Sweden looked dangerous only on rare occasions. The team came close to breaking the deadlock near the end of the first half when Real Sociedad forward Isak Alexander had his shot from inside the area hit the post after deflecting off Spain defender Marcos Llorente in front of the goal line.
Alvaro Morata had Spain's best chance just a few minutes earlier but his shot missed wide with goalkeeper Robin Olsen the only opponent to beat inside the box. Olsen also saved a close-range header by substitute Gerard Moreno in the 90th minute.
Early in the second half, Marcus Berg misfired inside the area for the other good chance wasted by Sweden.
In the other group match, Slovakia defeated Poland 2-1 in St. Petersburg.
Spain's matches at Euro 2020 are being played in Seville instead of Bilbao — the original host city for Spain — because the high contagion rate of the virus in the northern city wouldn't allow for many fans to attend games.
A limited crowd of 12,517 attended the match at La Cartuja, where Spain will also play Poland on Saturday and Slovakia on June 23. A quarterfinal match will also be played at La Cartuja.
Sweden, which hasn't advanced past the group stage at the European Championship since 2004, next faces Slovakia on Friday in St. Petersburg.
Slovakia gets past Poland
As Marek Hamsik's influence begins to wane for Slovakia, Milan Skriniar has stepped up as the main man.
Scoring the winning goal in a match at a European Championship is a decent way to start.
Skriniar brought down a corner and toe-poked the ball into the net from 15 meters to earn Slovakia a 2-1 victory over Poland.
It's becoming quite the year for the uncompromising center back, who is coming off playing an integral role for Inter Milan in its title-winning campaign in Italy.
Hamsik, with his Mohawk, has long been the most famous player in Slovakian soccer but now he has some fierce competition in the 26-year-old Skriniar.
Poland was made to pay for Grzegorz Krychowiak's red card seven minutes before Skriniar's goal, the holding midfielder collecting his second booking for clumsily going into the back of Jakob Hromada near the center circle.
It was a bad day for Poland's two other renowned players, too.
FIFA player of the year Robert Lewandoski's struggles at major soccer tournaments continued, the Bayern Munich striker failing to have a clear-cut chance and snatching at the opportunities he did have in the first half.
Lewandowski has only two goals in 12 matches at a World Cup or European Championship.
Then there was Wojciech Szczesny, the Juventus player who became the first goalkeeper to score an own-goal at the tournament. Szczesny was unfortunate as the ball rebounded off his near post, onto his outstretched arm and back into the net following a shot by Slovakia winger Robert Mak in the 18th minute.
That gave Slovakia the lead before Karol Linetty equalized for Poland barely 30 seconds into the second half.
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With files from The Associated Press