The Three Lions will be disappointed in the manner they allowed Spain to take the lead on 14 minutes, with the goal coming from an area of English strength. It was a set-piece which undid England, a corner finding Spanish skipper Javi Martinez unmarked, his header turned in at the far post by a stooping Ander Herrera. England had struggled to wrestle the ball from the Spaniards throughout the half, and when they did were generally wasteful with it. They did show some sparks of life in stoppage time at the end of the first half, with Kyle Walker bombing down the right flank, and his cross was turned goal wards by Daniel Sturridge, only to see David De Gea produce a fine save.
The second half followed much the same pattern, Spain leading England a merry dance when in possession, but England looked much slicker when they did actually have the ball. And whenever Walker made his bursts down the flank, Spain looked vulnerable. With two minutes to go the Spurs fullback made another run, his cross finding Welbeck inside the box, and the Manchester United man controlled before slotting home the equaliser.
The day’s opening fixture saw the Czech Republic rewarded for a blistering start to the second half which ultimately earned them a 2-1 victory over the Ukraine. The first half was a stalemate typical to international tournaments of late, with neither side willing to over commit in attack for fear of conceding at the other end, the fear of losing overriding the desire to win the game.
The Czech skipper Borek Dockal changed the whole shape of the game in the opening 15 minutes of the second half with a stunning double strike. His first came on 49 minutes linking well with right back Ondrej Celustka, the full back’s return ball sitting up for Dockal to strike a volley with the outside of his left foot past the diving Anton Kanibolitskiy.
Seven minutes later another slick pass, this time from Lukas Vacha gave Dockal some room 20 yards out to slide a shot into the bottom corner to double the Czech’s lead. Rather than push on for a third, the Czech Republic seemed content to knock the ball about in the midfield, a tactic which almost came back to haunt them in the closing moments when Ukraine substitute Maksim Biliy capitalised on a slip by Gecov to narrow the gap with four minutes left.
The Ukraine pushed hard for an equaliser, creating more chances in the closing five minutes than they had in the previous 85, but the Czechs hung on for the three points.