The most anticipated soccer event of the last two years is finally here, and it is delivering the goods.
Earlier hampered by the unfortunate turn of events due to the almighty COVID-19 pandemic, the highly anticipated EURO 2020 eventually kicked off last week. The tournament which was slated for June 2020, but got postponed because of the pandemic kicked off on Friday to the delight of football fans everywhere.
With a 3-0 win for Italy over Turkey on a late fixture last Friday, the competition got off to a rather interesting start; a Merih Demiral own goal opening the scoresheets. It has been nonstop action since then, with intriguing stories and record setting moments. Here is a list of the biggest news from the opening weekend of the competition.
1. Demiral own goal
One of every defender’s nightmares is putting a goal past their own keeper. While it mostly is not a player’s fault when this happens, it is still very disheartening and makes for a very depressing scene. How much more when it happens on a big stage like the European competition! And it happens to be the first goal of the tournament.
This was the case with Turkish defender Merih Demiral when he bodied the ball past his keeper from a Berardi square play in the 53rd minute. The goal must have had a psychological effect on the team, as Italy added two more goals in quick succession. A very forgettable yet unforgettable moment. Sorry Merih.
2. England breaks the jinx
England beat Croatia by a lone goal in their first match of the tournament courtesy of a second half Raheem Sterling goal. The three lions win their first opening game in a major competition on the 10th time of asking. Incredible scenes. It was made even better by the presence of fans at the stadium. They also consider it a sweet revenge against the team that knocked them out of the World Cup at the semifinal in 2018. Could the EURO 2020 be their redemption?
3. Goran Pandev & North Macedonia
North Macedonia’s skipper, Goran Pandev scored his country’s first ever goal at an international competition. The 37 year old who debuted in the national team 20 years ago netted against Austria on Sunday to set the record. North Macedonia is a country of just about 2 million people. It was created some 19 years ago after Macedonia gained independence from Yugoslavia. It was a historical moment that will be told and retold till the end of time.
4. Youngest to ever do it
England’s Jude Bellingham on Sunday became the youngest player to ever feature at the European Championship. After being subbed on in the game against Croatia, the youngster set the new record at 17 years 349 days. Add that to the Champions League record of being the youngest English player to start and score in the competition. The sky seems to be the starting point for the youngster.
5. First time for everything
The Austria vs North Macedonia game is definitely one for the history books. One country makes history by scoring their first ever goal in an international competition. And the other secured their first win at a European Championship. Led by David Alaba, Austria beat North Macedonia 3-1, making history with their first ever win at the competition.
It hasn’t even been a week yet and so much has happened already in the EURO 2020. Matchday 1 continues today, and we look forward to the many surprises and drama the rest of the tournament has in stock.