Day nine of Euro 2016 produced another thrilling day of action, as Italy recorded a win over Sweden, Croatia and Czech Republic produced a breath-taking draw and Spain hammered Turkey.
The first game of the day came in Group E, as Italy recorded a 1-0 victory over Sweden in a tight contest. There was little in the way of clear-cut chances. Italian midfielder Marco Parolo came close to breaking the deadlock on 82 minutes, heading against the Swedish bar.
Italy did eventually find a way through with just two minutes left on the clock. Striker Eder drove across the edge of the box and fired home brilliantly past Andreas Isaksson.
The victory sealed the Azzurri’s place in the knockout stages, while Sweden will need to defeat Belgium in their last game to have a chance of making the last 16.
The evening game between Czech Republic and Croatia in Group D, produced drama off and on the pitch as the game finished 2-2 Saint-Etienne. The game was marred by Croatia fans throwing flares on to the pitch and skirmishes in the stands.
Croatia took the lead on 37 minutes. Milan Badelj stole the ball in midfield and found Ivan Perisic who advanced into the box before firing a low effort past Petr Cech in the Czech goal.
Ante Cacic’s team established a two goal lead on 59 minutes. Marcelo Brozovic played in Ivan Rakitic and the Barcelona midfielder coolly dinked the ball over Cech. The Czech came back into the game and got a goal back on 75 minutes.
Tomas Rosicky produced a sublime ball to Milan Skoda, who powerfully headed past Danijel Subasic. Pavel Vrba’s side rescued what could be a crucial point in stoppage-time. Croatia defender Domagoj Vida somewhat inexplicably handled the ball in the area and Czech striker Tomas Necid scored with the resulting spot-kick.
The draw leaves Croatia on four points and Czech Republic on one. Both teams could make the last 16 depending on results elsewhere.
In the other game in the group European champions Spain eased to a 3-0 win over Turkey. La Roja took the lead on 34 minutes through Juventus striker Alvaro Morata.
The striker diverted Nolito’s cross past Babacan in the Turkey goal from ten yards out. Nolito then got in the act himself two minutes later, capitalising on a Mehmet Topal mistake to score from six yards out.
Vicente del Bosque’s side extended their lead just after the break, Morata tapped in from close-range from a Jordi Alba cross.
As expected Spain have qualified from the group with ease and will now face Croatia on Tuesday to decide who wins the group. Turkey now look highly unlikely to qualify or the knockout stages.