Holders leave it late before Pique strikes to give deserved victory.
Date: June 13, 2016
Result: Spain 1-0 Czech Republic
Spain: Gerard Pique 87
Venue: Stadium Municpal, Toulouse
Spain took a while to get going but once they found their passing range they were able to pin the Czech Republic back in their own half for almost the entire game. Prompted by the peerless Andres Iniesta, chances were created, but a resolute Czech Republic defence kept the the holders at bay. A draw looked on the cards until, with three minutes remaining, Iniesta lofted an inch perfect cross on to the head of Gerard Pique to secure Spain the points.
The Czech Republic offered little going forward, but midway through the second half, with the scoreline still 0-0, they came close to taking the lead. It took a marvellous piece of defending from the alert Cesc Fabregas to hook the ball away from under his own bar to deny the lurking Tomas Necid a certain goal.
Man of the match:
Andres Iniesta was the outstanding player on the pitch. As the senior player in the Spanish midfield he assumed responsibility and always looked the man most likely to unlock a dogged Czech Republic defence. Capped a typically dynamic performance with a wonderfully weighted cross for the Spain goal.
Matter of fact:
David Silva won his 100th cap for Spain. Along with Sergio Ramos, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas, he was one of four centurions in Vicente del Bosque’s starting XI. All four were survivors of the Euro 2008 winning team; a fifth, Iker Casillas, was on the bench.
In 2012 Spain pioneered the strikerless formation. Four years on and coach Vicente del Bosque still seems no closer to unearthing a frontman for the post-David Villa era. Alvaro Morata started before being replaced by the veteran, Aritz Aduriz, but neither man inspired confidence for the greatr challenges that lie ahead.
Czech Republic: 7
Attempts on target
Czech Republic: 3
Czech Republic: 3
13 David de Gea (G)
03 Gerard Piqué
05 Sergio Busquets
06 Andrés Iniesta
07 Álvaro Morata (20 Aritz Aduriz 62′)
10 Cesc Fàbregas (15 Thiago Alcantara 70′)
15 Sergio Ramos (C)
18 Jordi Alba
21 David Silva
22 Nolito (11 Pedro Rodriguez 82′)
Starting formation: 4-3-3
De Gea – Piqué, Ramos, Juanfran, Jordi Alba – Cesc Fàbregas, Sergio Busquets, Andrés Iniesta – David Silva, Nolito, Álvaro Morata
01 Petr Čech (G)
02 Pavel Kadeřábek
04 Theodor Gebre Selassie (18 Josef Šural 86′)
05 Roman Hubník
06 Tomáš Sivok
07 Tomáš Necid (21 David Lafata 75′)
08 David Limberský
10 Tomáš Rosický (C) (15 David Pavelka 88′)
13 Jaroslav Plašil
19 Ladislav Krejčí
22 Vladimír Darida
Starting formation: 4-2-3-1
Čech – Kadeřábek, Hubník, Sivok, Limberský – Plašil, Darida – Gebre Selassie, Rosický, Krejčí – Necid
Czech Republic: David Limberský 61
Referee: Szymon Marciniak (Pol)