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Result: Spain 1-0 Czech Republic

Afternoon football fans and it’s time for a triple-bill of Monday football! The big one of course is at 5pm when Ireland face Sweden and after that we’ll have plenty interest in the meeting of Belgium and Italy at 8pm. But our first liveblog of the day is the meeting of defending champions Spain and Czech Republic at 2pm.

Let’s get some team news then shall we for this Group D clash in Toulouse?

The big news for Spain is that David De Gea gets the nod in goal while there’s also starting spots handed

Spain: De Gea; Juanfran, Pique, Ramos, Jordi Alba; Busquets; Fabregas, Iniesta; Silva, Morata, Nolito.

Petr Cech and Tomas Rosicky will be the most familiar names in the Czech Republic side.

Czech Republic: Cech; Kaderabek, Sivok, Hubnik, Limbersky; Darida, Plasil; Gebre Selassie, Rosicky, Krejci, Necid.

The action began in Group D yesterday with the meeting of Croatia and Turkey. It was a moment of magic from Luka Modric that proved the difference with his first-half goal handing the Croatians a 1-0 win.

http://vine.co/v/iLiVgHBIq39

After their triumphs in 2008 and 2012, Spain are chasing a third successive European crown in France. They finished top of Group C in qualifying, only losing one of their ten games when being defeated 2-1 by Slovakia back in October 2014.

Czech Republic booked top spot as well in Group A in qualifying as they finished ahead of Iceland and Turkey.

“Seriously strong, balanced and experienced team put out by Spain. I think they’re not being mentioned enough so far as potential winners which may even help their cause,” says reader Barry Curtin.

Have Spain been overlooked in the tournament build-up?

Countdown is on to kick-off. Pre-match verdicts please.

Kick-Off: And we’re under way in Toulouse.

3 mins - Early indications predictably point to Spain controlling possession here. They haven’t created any big opportunities yet though.

8Mins

Czech Republic settle to the contest, forcing a couple of corners and a free-kick from a dangerous position on the left but no shot on De Gea’s goal as of yet.

10Mins

Juanfran whips in a dangerous low cross from the right that the Czech defence just clear with Nolito lurking. Then Morata sneaks in behind and produces a smart save from Petr Cech, although an offside was subsequently blown. Spain starting to crank up the gears.

11Mins

Two-footed challenge by Morata on the right brings someone down but it’s not a Czech opponent. Instead it’s the linesman who tumbles onto the Toulouse turf.

15Mins

David Silva whips in a free-kick from the left for Spain, that just has a little too much pace on it and Sergio Ramos can’t quite direct his header on goal.

18Mins

Save! Petr Cech proves his worth with a fine save. It’s Morata he denies from close-range after Silva had played the Juventus striker in. Lovely play from Spain there.

20Mins

Still no breakthrough but all the signs pointing here to a long and difficult afternoon for the Czechs.

23Mins

Spain win another corner on the left from David Silva but it does not yield anything, a looping header back from Pique tailing wide. That Morata chance the closest they have come to a goal in this Group D fixture.

27Mins

A quite brilliant pass by Andres Iniesta finds Juanfran, who is under pressure, and he tries to flick it on to Morata but Sivok sticks out a leg to clear for Czech Republic.

29Mins

66% possession for Spain so far, 34% for Czech Republic. Sums up the first-half to date.

30Mins

Chance! Iniesta pokes the ball through for Spain after the Czech lose the ball coming out of defence. It comes to Morata and he unleashes a left-foot shot across the goal that Cech gets a hand to divert it away. The subsequent corner comes to nothing.

39Mins

Iniesta plays a one-two with Silva but instead of flicking it wide for Juanfran, he tries an audacious effort as he spies Cech off his line. The ball flies high and wide though. There is a limit to what the Barca maestro can do it seems.

40Mins

Save! It’s Jordi Alba who is released on the left for Spain, he gets into the box and unleashes a stinging drive that Cech beats away. The Czech’s scramble the ball clear. Moments later Silva nearly gets in but Cech dives at his feet to deny him.

45Mins

So it’s all square at the break then, Spain yet to find a way past Petr Cech. The Czech’s did finally test De Gea before the break with Necid firing in a shot that had plenty pace but was straight at the United keeper.

45Mins

We’re back underway for the second-half.

46Mins

And an early chance for Spain as they attack with Czech defender Hubnik diverting the ball on to the butt of the post.

47Mins

Cech is really standing tall for the Czech Republic. He saves with his feet from Nolito and then denies Ramos from the rebound.

49Mins

The deadlock is still to be broken but you get the sense that it’s surely only a matter of time before Spain manage to do just that.

49Mins

Spain v Czech Republic - UEFA Euro 2016 - Group D - Stadium de Toulouse Czech Republic's Michal Kadlec (left) and Spain's Andres Iniesta battle for the ball Source: Martin Rickett

51Mins

Chance! Nolito and Alba combine delightfully on the left flank, and when Alba knocks in a low cross, it only needs a touch in front of goal from a Spanish player. No one has made the run in though and the Czech rearguard breathe a sigh of relief as the ball flies across the goal.

52Mins

Nine corners already for Spain today. That’s a sign of the control they have exerted.

56Mins

The Czech defence are still holding firm. Juanfran floats in a cross from the right in the direction of Morata but Sivok does extremely well to head clear.

57Mins

Chance! And Czech Republic nearly grab an unlikely lead! It’s a superb delivery from Plasil with his left foot from the free kick on the right wing and Hubnik, up from the back, sticks out his right boot to prod it goalward. De Gea does well though to keep calm and get down to smother the ball.

58Mins

Spain v Czech Republic - UEFA Euro 2016 - Group D - Stadium de Toulouse Spain's Gerard Pique and Czech Republic's Tomas Necid battle for the ball Source: Martin Rickett

60Mins

Spain ping the ball around in style. Eventually it’s Iniesta who steps inside and bangs in a low shot but Cech kept an eye on that and got down to gather.

60Mins

So an hour has elapsed and still no sign of a goal. No scoreless matches to date in Euro 2016.

62Mins

Sub: Spain shake it up in attack. Morata comes off and Aduriz, the evergreen striker from Athletic Bilbao, comes in.

65Mins

Chance! What a goal line clearance from Cesc Fabregas to save Spain. Gebre Selassie headed the ball back across goal following a deep cross and with a queue of Czech players waiting to tap it in, Cesc made a vital intervention.

66Mins

It’s eight years since Spain won their first game at a major tournament. They’ve just over 20 minutes to ensure that trend doesn’t continue.

69Mins

Sub: Thiago Alcantara is on for Spain for Fabregas.

70Mins

Chance! Brilliant pass by Silva to Alba whose touch takes it around the keeper but Hubnik gets back to concede a corner for Spain.

74Mins

Sub: David Lafata on for the Czech Republic for Necid.

76Mins

Who is going to be the Spanish hero? They need something special to break the deadlock here.

79Mins

Chance! Ramos provides the cross for Spain and Aduriz has the chance to head home but the ball tails wide.

81Mins

Sub: Another roll of the dice by Spain as Pedro replaces Nolito.

84Mins

Any hope of a breakthrough? Not much time left.

86Mins

GOAL! Spain 1-0 Czech Republic

Finally we’ve had a goal. Wave after wave of Spanish attacks finally pays off. Pedro feeds Iniesta and when he hooks a cross to the back post, Pique is lurking to nod him.

88Mins

Can’t say that was not deserved and Iniesta in particular deserved that assist. He has been magnificent. Cruel on the Czech Republic who had defended splendidly until that point.

91Mins

Sub: Rosicky off, Pavelka on for the Czechs.

91Mins

Save! Clever move by the Czechs down the left and when the ball is cut back, Darida unleashes a fierce drive. There’s plenty power behind it but De Gea is well placed to beat the shot away.

90Mins

And that’s it! Spain finally get over the line but they left it so late and were really grateful to Pique’s positioning and Iniesta’s ingenuity. Czech Republic fought bravely but were undone after a game where they were under incessant pressure.

So it’s advantage Croatia and Spain so far in Group D. Next up here are games on Friday with Czech Republic meeting Croatia at 5pm and the battle of Spain and Turkey at 8pm. Thanks for joining us this afternoon!

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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