By Temisan Amoye
Matchday 1 of Euro 2020 finally kicked off to a great start at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, with Italy recording a comfortable 3-0 win over Turkey in Group A and wrapped up with France recording a 1-0 win courtesy of a Matt Hummels own goal to extend Les Bleus unbeaten run against Germany to 6 games.
In all 12 matches played there have been standout performances, from recognised stars to those trying to make a name for themselves, here are 5 top individual performances from Matchday 1:
Ciro Immobile (Forward, Italy)
The Lazio forward led from the front scoring a goal and assisting another as Italy routed Turkey 3-0 last Friday. Immobile who scored 20 and assisted a further 6 in Serie A, popped up in the 66th minute with a real poacher’s effort.
The star forward was on hand to assist Insigne who scored Italy’s third goal of the night. Immobile finished the match with 6 shots and 3 chances created, sending Italy to the top of Group A.
Breel Embolo (Forward, Switzerland)
Power, pace and a bit of misfortune summed up Breel Embolo’s performance against Wales. The ex-Basel forward tormented the Wales backline with his evident quality. Highlighted in the 49th minute when he received a pass from strike partner, Seferovic, and utilised his pace and power to bulldoze his way between Welsh defenders Rondon and Mepham only to power his shot at Danny Ward who tipped over for a corner.
Embolo would not be denied from the resulting corner, holding off a defender, he powered in a header from a Shaqiri cross to give Switzerland a 1-0 lead. The forward created a chance for teammate Mbabu, who squandered a chance to put the Swiss two goals up.
The unlucky Embolo was unable to add to his tally despite the chances, but his performance will be a huge lift for the Swiss as they look to progress from Group A.
Embolo finished the match with a total of 6 shots (3 on target) with two chances created. Completing the most dribbles (4), and winning the most duels (10) after 90 minutes.
Romelu Lukaku (Forward, Belgium)
Coming off a successful season with Inter Milan at Serie A where he scored 24 goals, assisting a further 11, Romelu Lukaku was at his clinical best, scoring two goals from two shots against Russia at the St. Petersburg stadium.
Initially rocked by the news of Inter teammate Eriksen suffering a cardiac arrest earlier in the day, Lukaku maintained composure to put Russia to the sword with two well taken goals, dedicating both goals to Eriksen. Lukaku reeled towards the Camera after scoring, saying “Chris, Chris – I love you!”
The powerful striker finished the game with two goals while creating a solitary chance for Belgium.
Milan Skriniar (Defender, Slovakia)
Alongside Romelu Lukaku, Milan Skriniar rounded up a successful Serie A season with Inter Milan. One of the more experienced players in the Slovakian squad, Skriniar played a major role in keeping Poland’s Robert Lewandowski quiet in their Group E Euro 2020 clash in St. Petersburg
Skriniar recorded a 94% pass accuracy, made 10 clearances, 3 interceptions, won 5 duels amongst others, but his most important contribution came in the 69th minute when he finished off a Hamsik pass to give Slovakia a surprise 2-1 win over Poland.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Forward, Portugal)
Mercurial forward Cristiano Ronaldo broke Hungarian hearts when he scored two late goals for Portugal, setting the new record for most goals (11) in European Championship history, surpassing France’s Michel Platini.
Going into the game as the only player to play in 5 European Championships, the forward was relatively quiet, until he blazed over the bar from point-blank range in the 43rd minute.
Ronaldo would not be denied his glory as Portugal were awarded a late penalty, which he coolly slotted in, breaking Platini’s record.
The Juventus star forward popped up in the 2nd minute of extra time, to score Portugal’s third, taking his international goal tally to 106 goals, just three goals behind record-holder, Iran Ali Daei who has 109 goals
Patrik Schick (Forward, Czech Republic)
Never mind goal of the tournament, Patrik Schick’s 2nd goal is already a contender for the FIFA Puskas goal of the year. The Czech striker who has struggled for consistency at club level over the years, scored two goals to break Scottish hearts in Hampden Park, Glasglow.
The 25-year old striker scored a towering header in the 42nd minute to give Czech Rep. the lead.
Schick saved the best for last, the striker spotted Scottish goalkeeper David Marshall off his line and whipped a lofted shot from near the halfway line to put the Czech well ahead.
Schick finished the game with 6 shots ( 4 on target).
Simon Kjaer (Defender, Denmark)
Denmark lost, but life won. The Christian Eriksen incident is still fresh in our minds, but the story sould have been worse, but for the quick intervention of Denmark captain, Simon Kjaer who undertook life-saving measures to prevent Eriksen from swallowing his tongue, before the medics took over.
Kjaer didn’t stop there, he went over to console Eriksen’s wife during the heat of the moment.
Kjaer might have been on the losing side of the fixture, but he sure is a standout performer at this Euros.