Big wins for two members of the United Kingdom in Northern Ireland and England, as well as more second game trouble for Germany, highlighted day seven of the European Championships. The day saw the first goalless draw of the tournament, as well as the first team to be eliminated.
1) Biggest winner: Northern Ireland
Securing their first ever victory at a European Championship is always cause for celebration, but more so this year with third place teams that could conceivably make it into the quarter-finals. Northern Ireland pulled off a huge win over Ukraine and now it puts them in solidly in third place. If they can get a result in their next match they will be set to make further history by advancing. That next match is against Germany however, so they’ll need a strong defensive performance.
2) Standout performer: Roy Hodgson
Getting your substitutions right can really change a game, and Roy Hodgson managed his way to a big comeback victory over Wales. Raheem Sterling made at least one call really easy for Hodgson, but bringing on Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford made the England attack much more dynamic and really turned around the team’s fortune. Hodgson deserves a lot of credit for making the changes.
3) Biggest loser: Ukraine
The first team to be eliminated from Euro 2016 is Ukraine, and they were helpless to do anything about it, well kind of. Ukraine had to sit by and watch Germany and Poland play out a draw which effectively eliminated the Eastern Europe team from the competition. Losing to Northern Ireland today didn’t help matters, neither did their loss to Germany on matchday one. Ukraine was hoping their final match of the group stage against Poland would be a battle for at least second place, instead, it will be a pointless exercise for them.
4) Best tweet:
When the E hits, it really hits https://t.co/tfbXce5BlN
— James Tyler (@JamesTylerESPN) June 16, 2016
5) Biggest surprise: Germany vs Poland is the tournament’s first scoreless draw
ESPN’s Bob Ley asked shortly after full time if you had to guess which match would produce the first scoreless draw would you pick Germany vs Poland? Most people probably wouldn’t, considering the firepower both countries can produce. Poland was the highest scoring team in qualifying, and Germany has some of the world’s best when it comes to scoring. Poland also has Robert Lewandowski. But everyone expecting fireworks was disappointed as defense ruled the day. Poland was supremely organized, and Jerome Boateng had another sterling defensive performance for Germany.
6) Worst moment: Raheem Sterling’s performance
It can’t be fun to be subbed off at halftime after a lackluster performance in the European Championship, it has to feel even worse when the player who you came off for scores a late winner. Such was Raheem Sterling’s day against Wales. Sterling made little impact for England in the 45 minutes he played. His only real moment of note was a stunning miss that he really should have done better with. It seems likely that Sterling lost his place in the starting lineup given how well Sturridge performed in his stead.
7) Best goal:
Joe Hart could have done better with the shot, and putting that many players in a wall that far out seems unnecessary. But to score from about 40 yards deserves special mention.
8) Extra time
Things are starting to take shape after the first week in France. Ukraine has already confirmed their place at the bottom of their group. But there is still much to be determined elsewhere. England has a chance to go into the knock-out stages with a full head of steam. Meanwhile Germany are still searching for the form that won them a World Cup two years ago. One thing is for sure, given that more than two teams from a group can advance, it’s going to be an exciting finish in some of these groups. But you may have to bring a calculator to figure it all out.
9) Thursday’s games
Day eight kicks-off with group E action as Sweden and Italy take to the pitch at 9am Eastern. The two later games are both from group D with the Czech Republic take on Croatia at noon Eastern, and Spain will play Turkey at 3 eastern. As always each match will air on ESPN.