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Spain ease past Croatia, Italy overpower Albania in Euro 2024

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-06-16 09:26
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BERLIN -- Spain ensured a perfect start into Euro 2024 after easing past Croatia with three goals in 45 minutes while Italy came from behind to edge Albania 2-1 in Group B on Saturday.

The three first-half goals from Alvaro Morata, Fabian Ruiz and Daniel Carvajal allowed the Spaniards to start their Euro 2024 campaign with a bang in Group B whereas uninspired Croatia posed no threat to Spain's defence over 90 minutes.

Both sides staged a slow start at a sold out Olympia stadium in Berlin but just when Croatia was about to create momentum, Spain broke the deadlock at the half-hour mark when Ruiz's defence-splitting pass found Morata, who made no mistake and put the ball past onrushing goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic.

Luis de la Fuente's boys quick-fired a second goal only three minutes later as Ruiz got his name on the scoreboard after unleashing a low drive into the bottom right corner, giving Livakovic no chance for a parry.

Croatia regathered control as Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon palmed Marcelo Brozovic's hammer into the path of Lovro Majer, whose follow-up shot rattled the side netting, but Croatia was yet trailing 3-0 in the closing stages of the first half as Carvajal tapped home the pinpoint cross from Lamine Yamal, who became the youngest-ever player to appear in the tournament at the age of 16 years and 338 days.

After the restart, Spain continued to create chances but neither Yamal nor Morata was able to add more goals ten minutes into the second half.

Croatia also came close as Josip Stanisic's dangerous shot got blocked on the goal line while Simon defused Andrej Kramaric's header on target.

Zlatko Dalic's men should have reduced the deficit in the closing stage, but Bruno Petkovic couldn't beat Simon from the penalty spot and Petkovic's subsequent rebound goal was also disallowed due to encroachment.

In the other match of Group B, Italy turned around an early 1-0 deficit as Alessandro Bastoni cancelled out Nedim Bajrami's opener before Nicolo Barella's 2-1 winner secured Italy all three points.

In the second game of Group A, Switzerland moved 3-1 past Hungary to move equal on points with hosts Germany. Kwadwo Duah and Michel Aebischer established a two-goal lead for Switzerland in the first half before Barnabas Varga halved the deficit after the half-time.

The Nati had the last laugh though as joker striker Breel Embolo ensured a 3-1 victory with a last-gasp goal.

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