The Jerusalem Post
Schick stunner leaves Scots reeling
Czechs win 2-0 • Southgate delighted selection paid off in opening victory
GLASGOW/LONDON (Reuters) – Patrik Schick scored one of the most remarkable goals in European Championship history as the Czech Republic beat Scotland 2-0 on Monday to get their Euro 2020 campaign off to a flying start and deflate home hopes in Glasgow.
Schick, who had also netted an excellent header in the first half, doubled his tally after the break with a curling, looping effort from just inside the Scotland half, having spotted home keeper David Marshall far off his line.
At 49.7 yards, the Bayer Leverkusen forward’s astonishing effort was officially the furthest recorded distance from which a goal has been scored at the European Championship.
“We know he is a genius and he knows how to finish,” Czech coach Jaroslav Silhavy said. “The second goal was something out of this world.”
Schick described his effort as “a cherry [on the cake],” and added mischievously that he had clocked Marshall frequently advancing up the pitch earlier in the match.
Scotland had battled gamely on their return to tournament football after a 23-year absence and spurned a number of excellent chances of their own.
The game would have had a different complexion had Jack Hendry found the net instead of cracking an effort against the bar early in the second half, while
Lyndon Dykes was guilty of wasting two superb opportunities.
“It’s a tough lesson for us that at the highest level, at the best tournaments, you have to take your chances,” said Scotland captain Andy Robertson. “Czech Republic did that, we didn’t.”
While Scotland were profligate, the Czechs were worthy winners, soaking up Scottish pressure in the first half, and quieting a noisy Hampden Park crowd, who were seeing their side play in a major tournament for the first time since the 1998 World Cup. The win put the Czechs above England, who beat Croatia 1-0 at Wembley on Sunday, at the top of Group D.
Raheem Sterling finally found his tournament touch when his 61st-minute goal gave England a deserved win, as they began a European Championship with a victory for the first time in nine attempts.
Sterling, something of a surprise starter after a flat end to the domestic season but a favorite of manager Gareth Southgate, slid
home after great work by Kalvin Phillips to end an individual drought that had run through England’s three previous major tournaments.
“It feels good. I grew up two minutes down the road, so I knew I had to score here, and it was a great feeling to do it,” said the Wembley-raised forward.
Southgate said he was unaware of England’s previous run of opening-game failures – despite having played in one of them in 1996 – but, as expected, was not getting carried away by a solid but unexceptional display.
“It’s for everybody else to get excited and throw their beer around and do whatever they want,” he said. “It’s brilliant to give that joy to people. But for us, it’s on to the next one and preparing for a really tough game on Friday [against Scotland].
Southgate was a relieved man after his much-debated team selection paid off.
“It feels great to have been able to send the fans home happy and
to have fans up and down the country happy, that’s very special,” he said.
“I was really pleased with the way we settled so quickly. Big occasion, sweltering hot day, every reason to look nervous at the start, but we didn’t. We were the bigger threat throughout.”
With a wide array of talent at his disposal, Southgate kept faith with striker Sterling despite his below-par form in the Premier League and included midfielder Kalvin Phillips.
That disappointed fans who had wanted to see Marcus Rashford up front and Jack Grealish in midfield.
But Phillips and Sterling were England’s outstanding players, the former providing a perfect through ball for Sterling to slot home in the 61st minute.
The game lacked the jeopardy of the teams’ 2018 World Cup semi-final, won by Croatia, and losing on Sunday was no disaster for them given the way the draw pans out, but it was a morale-boosting victory for England as they set off once again in search of their first title since 1966.
On Monday, Milan Skriniar’s second-half goal earned Slovakia a 2-1 win over 10-man Poland in their opening Euro 2020 Group E match on Monday.
Skriniar beat Wojciech Szczesny with a low drive in the 69th minute, capitalizing on the sending-off of Polish midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak following a second booking for a challenge on Jakub Hromada.
Poland’s woes began in the 18th minute when a strike by Robert Mak bounced off Szczesny’s near post and slipped into the net after hitting the goalkeeper. The Poles equalized seconds after halftime through Karol Linetty, a surprise starter in Paulo Sousa’s team.
The Spain and Sweden match finished after press time. Tuesday’s matches feature Hungary vs Portugal and France vs Germany.
IN SUNDAY’S late encounter, flying full-back Denzel Dumfries scored a late winner to earn the Netherlands a 3-2 victory over Ukraine in a thrilling Group C opener after the Dutch had thrown away a two-goal lead.
Dumfries rescued all three points for the home team five minutes from time after Ukraine had fought their way back into the match.
The Dutch were up 2-0 with 15 minutes left, only to allow their opponents two quick goals and the chance to share the points before Dumfries headed home a dramatic winner to the delight of the home fans.
In the middle match on Sunday, late goals from substitutes Michael Gregoritsch and Marko Arnautovic gave Austria a convincing 3-1 victory over competition debutants North Macedonia in their opening Group C clash on Sunday as they earned their first tournament victory in 31 years.