Seen as one of the tournament’s biggest threats, Spain was on the front foot for most of their Group D opener against the Czech Republic, but it took a late winner for the favorites to pick up a 1-0 win on Monday.
The Spanish attack managed 13 shots against the Czechs, however, just five of their efforts landed on target. Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech and the team’s backline defended admirably for the majority of the match, but La Furia Roja finally found their breakthrough with three minutes remaining through Gerard Pique.
The Barcelona centerback nodded home his first goal of Euro 2016 after a superb cross from Andres Iniesta in the 87th minute.
Despite sitting back for large portions of the game, the Czechs found an excellent chance in the 65th minute, when Cesc Fabregas was forced to make a lunging goal line clearance for Spain off of Gebre Selassie’s header.
The win gives the world’s sixth-ranked side a share of the Group D lead, while the Czechs must make up ground now. The Czech Republic will take on the Croatia on June 17, while Spain meets Turkey later that day.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Andres Iniesta was the most threatening player on the pitch for the entire match, so it was only fitting that he set up Gerard Pique’s late winner.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Spain dominated possession, but the Czechs still managed to find several quality chances of their own. Cesc Fabregas saved the Spanish from defeat just after the hour mark, clearing Gebre Selassie’s nodded effort off the goal line.
MATCH TO FORGET
The Czech backline did just about everything right in the match, but Pique’s finish served as a brutal reminder that Spain is still among the world’s best teams.