Luka Modric scored one of the goals of the tournament so far to give Croatia a 1-0 win over Turkey while his Real Madrid teammate Toni Kroos starred in Germany’s 2-0 triumph over Ukraine.
While Croatia, Poland and Germany were all favourites in their respective games on Sunday, their opponents ensured that they were made to work hard to win all three points.
Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric and Ajax striker Arkadiusz Milik scored the winners for Croatia and Poland respectively, while Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi and Manchester United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger scored the two goals for the Germans.
Turkey 0-1 Croatia
Croatia have a formidable team in the tournament and showcased their powers with a strong performance against Turkey on Sunday.
Turkey controlled the majority of the possession, but despite not keeping the ball as much as they would have liked, Croatia created the majority of the chances in the game, registering 11 shots on goal as compared to Turkey’s four.
Defender Vedran Corluka had a memorable performance despite the fact that he suffered a cut on his forehead. The bloodied former Tottenham Hotspur centre-back carried on after being heavily bandaged.
It was a moment of brilliance that put the Croats in the lead though, as Real Madrid’s metronome Luka Modric fired home a wonderful volley from outside the Turkey box. Croatia went on to create more chances in the game, with captain Darijo Srna hitting the woodwork from a close range freekick.
Player of the match: Luka Modric
Player Rating: 8.5/10
The Real Madrid midfielder scored an absolute screamer of a goal towards the end of the first half to earn the three points for his side. However, it was not just the goal that earned Modric all the accolades. The 30-year-old took control of the Croatia midfield, playing a total of 52 successful passes with an 88 per cent accuracy rate.
Poland 1-0 Northern Ireland
Poland got themselves off to a good start in Group C as they managed to eke out a 1-0 win against minnows Northern Ireland with the help of an Arkadiusz Milik second-half strike.
The Poles completely controlled the game, keeping 65 per cent possession of the ball, and mounted one wave of attack after another against Northern Ireland. In fact, Poland were in such control of the game that the Irish just had one shot on goal in the entire match.
However, it was a second-half strike from Milik that did the trick for the Poles as they registered three points in Group C.
Player of the match: Kamil Glik
Player Rating: 7.5/10
The Torino centre-back was the standout player of the match for Poland on Sunday evening. While the rest of the team was intent on playing possession football, Glik gave Poland the muscle they needed to dominate the aerial balls played in by Northern Ireland.
Germany 2-0 Ukraine
Germany are one of the favourites to win the Euro 2016 in France, and they did not disappoint in their opening match of the tournament as the eased past a resilient Ukraine side with a 2-0 win.
Head coach Joachim Low decided not to field an out and out striker, instead opting to play Bayern Munich midfielder Mario Gotze as a false no.9 in order to gain leverage in the middle of the park. This tactic worked wonderfully for the 2014 World Cup champions as they managed to keep 68 per cent possession during the game.
Shkodran Mustafi opened the scoring with a powerful header off a Toni Kroos freekick in the first half. However, the Germans were not content with the 1-0 lead and kept applying the pressure to secure the win. They got that security just a minute before the end of the match, as Manchester United man Bastian Schweinsteiger smashed home a delightful Mesut Ozil pass.
Player of the match: Toni Kroos
Player Rating: 9/10
The Real Madrid midfielder seems to have completely transformed his form after switching into national team colours as he delivered a convincing performance against Ukraine. Kroos kept control of the midfield, playing a total of 104 successful passes. He even managed to play five key passes, set up Mustafi for the opening goal and rattle the crossbar once.
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