Saturday, June 7, 2008

Euro 2008 kicks off as favorites win openers

The Euro 2008 got under way today, with the Brits still pondering why they are not participating. In Group A action the co-host Switzerland were handed a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Czech Republic at St Jakob-Park. Second-half substitute Vaclav Sverkos scored the only goal of the game in the 70th minute of an anti-climatic opener. Unbelievably it was the Czech’s ONLY shot on goal for the entire game! The first half was a tight affair, but it was Switzerland who created the best opportunity midway through the opening period as record scorer and captain Alexander Frei was denied by Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech from close range. However, that was to be Frei's last contribution as the striker limped off in tears on the stroke of half-time with a serious knee injury which could well have ended the Borussia Dortmund star's tournament. In addition to the injury what may be the talk of the day was the non call on the obvious hand ball in the second half. Under the replay it was totally blatant, and even at live speed it was about the same. How could such a big call be missed in a game with so much riding on it. The Swiss will have three days to ponder that very fact before they take the pitch again on Wed.

In the second match in group A Portugal opened their Euro 2008 account with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Turkey in Geneva. Cristiano Ronaldo - who hit the post with a sensational free-kick early on - inspired his side to victory as they scored two second half goals to kill of a Turkish threat which never materialized. After having a first-half effort disallowed, Pepe made no mistake on the hour as he gave Portugal the lead with a stunning individual effort. Nuno Gomes hit post and crossbar before the second goal arrived in stoppage time when substitute Raul Meireles finished off a fine counter-attack. Portugal now sit on top of Group A after Czech Republic's 1-0 win over Switzerland earlier on Saturday. With Deco, Ronaldo, and all of that speed in front, can Portugal hoist the cup for the second time in the last three tries?

Lewis Hamilton took advantage of a mistake by Kimi Raikkonen as the race got under way to take the number two spot, then when Felipe Massa needed to pit he took over the lead and never relinquished it. Leading by as much as 40 seconds during the race, which was marred by two stoppages, unpredictable rain, and cautions, Lewis proved his mettle again by taking home his first Monaco Grad Prix victory and a 3 point lead atop the F1 leaderboard. The afore mention Massa may be the sleeper pick this year but Hamilton may ride is wave of momentum all the way across the Atlantic and into Canada for another win next month.

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