Almost 3 weeks ago, 24 European nations landed in France with high spirits and eyes set on the ultimate glory, but 8 outfits that failed to impress had to leave early after a disappointing show of abilities. UEFA Euro 2016 has been a roller-coaster of emotions so far. Intense drama and remarkable display of Football skills saw some teams progress ahead while some were went back packing. The knockout stage is here and we all hope that it will showcase extraordinary football that will be a treat to watch. 36 matches filled with thrill and spills but not to forget outstanding skills. The fans have been treated well so far and are expected to witness unlimited excitement as the tournament progresses. As the group phase has come to end and the top 16 teams are set to fight to stay in the knockout stage, let relive some of the best and memorable moments form the group phase:
7. Dimitri Payet: The Unsung Hero
Not many had heard this name before 2015, but after a memorable spell at West Ham United, Dimitri Payet earned his French call for first major tournament. Landing completely on the expectations, Payet has delivered the best so far for which he his recognised. In the opening match of the tournament between France and Romania, it was Payet who kept the atmosphere blazing. A late injury time winner served with a thunderbolt scored from his weaker left foot was a treat to watch. What a way to kick start a major tournament like Euro 2016.
6. The Italian’s served the First Piece
The not-so-compact Italian side had to face a blazing challenge from Belgium Red Devils in their opening match. A minimal effort was invested by Antonio Conte’s side to outclass the second best side in the world with a 2-0 victory. From start to finish, the Italians left no loopholes and were absolutely perfect. The way they defended, dribbled, and scored goals – in short a complete display of class and brilliance. They carried this form in the next match as well claiming a victory and cementing their place in the round of 16.
5. Sheer Defensive Brilliance from Boateng
Germany landed in France with a perfect defensive record and it wouldn’t have lasted long against Ukraine if Jerome Boateng did not come to the rescue. The Bayern Munich guy came to rescue when Germany was leading 1-0 against Ukraine. They almost scored but Boateng kept the ball away somehow when it was leading towards the empty net where Boateng readjusted to keep the ball away from goal through some brilliant acrobatic skills. His brilliant display of defense kept the German’s ahead.
— UEFA EURO 2016 (@UEFAEURO) June 13, 2016
4. Irish Making History
The Irish party is going strong and at full swing – and yes they drink a lot but they also know how to make others happy. These are Irish fans who are involved in unique acts that have earned them respect but it’s the players form Republic of Ireland who made history. One thing this tournament will be known for and that is for late winners. Republic of Ireland’s Robbie Brady scored in the dying moments of the game against Italy to reserve a place in the last 16. Sadly, this late drama forced the elimination of Turkey and Albania.
Robbie Brady celebrating with his brother last night. Passion!👏🏻 pic.twitter.com/7L2kjxFFHF
— TheSPORTbible (@TSBible) June 23, 2016
3. The Magic form Modric
The Croatian scored a brilliant volley against Turkey to seal a win and to stay competitive in group D against Spain. The Croatians had complete control over this match but the resolute Turkish defense was hard to beat. Something magical was required and that’s where Modric reacted. The Turkish keeper had no answers for this blazing volley form outside the box. Not to forget the contribution of Ozan Tufan as he preferred fixing his hairstyle instead of closing on Modric.
2. England vs. Wales: Who Put the First Slay
The Battle of Britain, as what most fans call it, had a tragic end. The drama unfolded at Lens where England narrowly edge past Wales. The determined Welsh side had the first blow but in the second half it was an all English affair as Vardy equalized but it was Daniel Sturridge who came from the bench only to score in the dying moments of the game, another late winner. Jubilation at one end and heartbreak at the other; that’s football for you!
1. The Welsh Dream Run
The first appearance in a major tournament after 1958 and topping the table with teams like England, Russia, and Slovakia is a story worth telling. Winning their first match against Slovakia kept the Welsh emotions high but a loss in the second match did not force any decline in determination. Wales demolished Russia in their last group match to top the table and finish above arch-rivals England. The Red Dragons showcased a brilliant display of football which summed the most magical night in the history of Welsh football.
Northern Ireland’s goalkeeper McGovern won hearts after his heroics against Germany. Northern Ireland lost the battle but McGovern delivered a brilliant performance to be remembered for long in his debut appearance for his country.
Iceland played cool against Portugal sealing a point a piece. The smallest nation in the tournament displayed a brilliant skill of football and ended the game at par with Portuguese.
Spain was seen at their best with two convincing wins at the start of the tournament but their winning streak at Europe ended after they lost to Croatia in their last group match.
Albania and Turkey showcased outstanding display of football in their last group matches but failed to qualify for the last 16. However, Albania made history by claiming their first win.
— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) June 23, 2016
It has been a great extravaganza so far and we expect this to continue with same pace. The tournament has entered into last 16 and the emotions and stakes are at an all-time high. Let’s keep enjoying the thrilling action. For the worldwide fans that are facing geo restrictions and cannot watch Euro 2016 live streaming, here’s a list of best VPN providers to select form:
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