Spain - Czech Republic result and match report Euro 2016
Gerard Piqué struck late with a header to see off the Czech Republic in Toulouse as Spain got off to a winning start at the European Championship.
Piqué goal derails Czech Republic defence
Gerard Piqué scored the only goal of the game as defending champions Spain secured an opening 1-0 win at Euro 2016 in Toulouse.
Pavel Vrba's Czech Republic set out their stall for a 0-0, hoping to catch Spain out on the break but with little in the way of a creative outlet for the plan to profit. Led by Tomas Rosicky, who came into the tournament on the back of 19 Premier League minutes in an injury-ravaged season, the Czechs did threaten sporadically but Spain's sustained assault kept Vrba's side too busy at the back for much attacking intent, leaving lone striker Tomas Necid chasing lost causes for most of the match.
David de Gea was called into action on a couple of occasions, most notably in the final minute when Spain switched off and left Vladimir Darida to pick his spot, the Czech midfielder instead electing to try and hit it down the keeper's throat.
Despite their clear domination, Spain struggled to break down a solid back line. It required 18 shots and 14 corners for Spain's 72 percent possession to finally tell, the imperious Andrés Iniesta finding Piqué with a floated cross when it appeared that the Czechs had done enough to earn a point.
Piqué's goal ensured that Spain remain favourites to top Group D, where they are joint leaders with Crotia after the first round of matches. It also ensured that La Roja extended their record-breaking unbeaten run at the Euros to 13 games. The last time Spain tasted defeated was against Portugal in the group stage in 2004.
As it happened
Min 90+2 | De Gea! The keeper makes a save from Darida, who was left alone in the area and had time to pick his spot but just blasted it straight down the middle. Bit of a let off for Spain. And there's the whistle! 1-0 it ends.
Min 90+1 | The Czechs are staring at the dregs in last chance saloon, but Spain look willing to make life difficult for themselves in the final seconds...
Min 90 | We'd forgotten De Gea was there, but the keeper pumps the ball forward, Aduriz is fouled in midfield and there are three minutes added.
Min 88 | Rosicky goes off and takes out his frustration on an advertisment. That is a hammer blow for the Czechs, whose game plan was minutes away from fruition.
Min 86 | Gooooooooal! There it is, and it's Gerard Piqué! Iniesta floats a ball in and the Barça man nods past Cech. 1-0. Iniesta's cross was undefendable. Medio gol, as the Spanish say.
Min 85 | Selassie goes off for Sural for the Czechs. Five minutes to go...
Min 83 | Pedro gets into the box and receives a pass from Iniesta but he can't get a shot off as the Czechs again defend excellently. It's been a bit of a masterclass from the back four.
Min 81 | Here comes the talisman, Pedro, 17 goals for Spain, many of them vital and late in the game...
Min 79 | The Czechs are defending like crazy now, throwing everybody behind the ball as Spain try and pick the lock. Iniesta ghosts in, hesitates, Nolito tries his luck, blocked, and it's finally belted clear.
Min 78 | Aduriz! Ramos pings in a cross and the Athletic striker gets up well but glances his header wide.
Min 75 | Aduriz goes for the spectacular with an overhead but he was offside. Pedro and Lucas Vázquez trotting up and down the touchline now.
Min 74 | Nothing is coming off for Spain now. Iniesta finds Nolito on the edge of the area but the ball wriggles out of his reach. Change for the Czechs. Necid off, Lafata coming on.
Min 72 | Spain carve out another chance, this time its Silva who has a go but his shot is wide.
Min 71 | "A por ellos" rings out around the stadium. The 2006 World Cup song... not the best musical reference point for Spain at the moment.
Min 70 | How did Alba not get to that? Silva lays it on a plate for the full back but Hubnik somehow prevents the trigger being pulled. Fantastic chance for Spain.
Min 69 | Another change from Del Bosque. Cesc goes off to be replaced by Thiago.
Min 68 | Spain are huffing and puffing, but the Czech house refuses to be blown down.
Min 64 | Cesc! The Chelsea midfielder pops up to hook the ball clear from under the bar with two Czech players bearing down. A training ground corner routine nearly undid Spain there. Better from Czech Republic in the past five minutes.
Min 63 | A bit of possession for the Czechs is rewarded with a corner, the big guns trotting up...
Min 61 | And here comes Aduriz! Morata, who has had zero luck this afternoon, goes off.
Min 59 | Iniesta hits one from the edge of the area but its bread and butter for Cech, who gathers easily.
Min 56 | Hubnik! The defender gets on the end of a free-kick and almost guides the ball past De Gea, who reacts well to gather. The Czechs come again, a bit of belief suddenly growing...
Min 55 | Morata despairs! The ball finds its way to the striker in the area again but he slips, gets a rebound in the face and it's cleared by the defence. It is not, it appears, going to be his afternoon.
Min 53 | Lucas Vázquez, Thiago and Aduriz warming up for Spain.
Min 51 | Silva again plays a glorious ball into the feet of Morata, but the striker is again flattened by a defender as he shapes to shoot. Good marking from the Czechs.
Min 50 | Alba puts in a dangerous cross after being played in by Nolito, straight across the mouth of goal but nowhere there to prod it home.
Min 47 | Iniesta, this time sterling in defensive duties, bundles the breaking Rosicky off the ball to a huge cheer from the Spanish support.
Min 46 | We're back uderway in Toulouse. No changes. And Hubnik hits his own post! The Czech defender guides a Morata cross past Cech and onto the upright! Spain then come again, Nolito and Morata shooting from close range but the Czechs somehow survive...
Min 45 | And that's the half in Toulouse. 0-0 it stands. Spain in the driving seat though and with a formidable bench as yet unmoved by a twitch of the Del Bosque 'tache.
Min 44 | Necid! The striker finally gets a ball in a decent position after the Czechs break five on three but his shot is easy for De Gea, who should be congratulated for staying awake through the first half.
Min 42 | What a ball from Iniesta! The White Knight picks out Nolito and lands the ball on his boot but the winger slips for the second time in the half. Right studs there, Nolly?
Min 40 | Spain are knocking on the door now. Iniesta feeds Alba and he warms Cech's hands, the defence hacking clear eventually. Spain come back again and Silva is thwarted by Cech from point blank range. It's only a matter of time. Czech Republic will be very pleased to make it to half time unbreached.
Min 39 | Iniesta tries one from distance, but it's not one for the scrap book. The crowd cheer the Manchegan's name to the rafters anyway. He is having a fine game.
Min 38 | Rosicky goes in the book for bringing down Iniesta. Clumsy, more than malice. The man has barely played all season after all.
Min 36 | It's hard to see the Czechs breaking the deadlock here. Lone striker Necid has barely had a sniff of the ball and almost every move forward ends with a long ball banged into empty space behind the Spain full backs.
Min 34 | Nolito picks out Sergio Busquets on the edge of the area but his shot is into the nosebleed seats.
Min 32 | Against a defence as well-organized as this, it won't be a surprise to see the more physical Aritz Aduriz at some point. Fàbregas finds himself in the area, facing goal, but a wall of white shirts greet the midfielder.
Min 31 | Morata, who looked offside when he made his run, brings a ball out of the air with a deft touch and then flicks Alba through, but the Barça defender's cross-shot is too close to Cech.
Min 30 | Half an hour gone in Toulouse and the onion bag remains unbothered at either end. Spain have had the lion's share of the goalmouth action but Petr Cech has been up to everything thrown at him so far.
Min 28 | Morata! The Juve fox in the box picks up a pass from Iniesta, feints, shoots and draws a fine fingertip save from Cech.
Min 25 | Iniesta! The midfield maestro picks out Juanfran's run with a pinpoint pass. The Atlético full back can't take advantage of it though.
Min 24 | All a bit scrappy over the last few minutes, neither side are creating a huge amount at either end. Spain's most dangerous outlet by far is Silva's dead ball accuracy. Tiki-taka it ain't, but it could provide the breakthrough against a Czech side set up not to concede.
Min 21 | Iniesta winds his way through the Czech back line and wins a corner. Silva, again, lands it on the head of a teammate, this time Piqué, but the Barça man's header is high and easy for Cech to gather. Ramos goes down clutching his shoulder in the area. Worry for Del Bosque...
Min 20 | Juanfran this time as Spain try the same trick, but Morata is beaten to the ball this time and gets a knock in the chops for his troubles.
Min 18 | Corner to Spain, another great delivery from Silva but Selassie gets up well to head it clear.
Min 15 | Morata! Silva, El Mago, sends in a glorious first-time cross and the Juve striker connects well in the area but it's straight at Cech, who makes a good save.
Min 14 | Free kick to Spain out on the left. Chance for a decent delivery into the area. Silva slings in a fine effort and Ramos rises to get his head on it but can't control and it's out for a goal kick.
Min 11 | The Czechs are falling back in mumbers when Spain have possession. There were at least eight white shirts facing Iniesta then as the White Knight strode forward.
Min 9 | Ouch! Morata tries to keep the ball in play on the right flank and takes out the lino! The chap in black is ok though.
Min 7 | Spain's first decent move of the game, Juanfran teeing one up for Morata but Czech Republic clear. Nolito then twists and turns and finds Morata, who shoots straight at Cech but is offside anyway.
Min 6 | The Czechs almost pick a pass in the area to create an opening but Spain hack it clear.
Min 5 | Rather harsh free kick awarded against Ramos. Decent range for the Czechs. Straight into the wall it goes though.
Min 4 | Corner to the Czechs, but it doesn't clear the first man. The white shirts come forward again, Rosicky probing the red wall, but it's out for a Spain throw.
Min 2 | Iniesta gets his first touch of the ball, ghosting forward and finding Nolito but the Celta man is called offside.
Min 1 | We're underway!
The handshakes are underway in the centre circle, Rosicky captaining Czech Republic and Sergio Ramos skippering La Roja, with Iker Casillas on the bench for Spain.
And here comes Spain's anthem. A reminder why none of the players sing along: it has no words.
The Czech Anthem sounds out across the Stade de Toulouse.
The rain has stopped in Toulouse and the teams are in the tunnel.
Welcome to our build up and then live coverage of the Group D game between Spain and the Czech Republic. This is the opening fixture for both teams in Euro 2016 and kick off will be 15:00 CEST at the Stadium de Toulouse.
Preview of Spain - Czech Republic
Spain will get their title defence underway in France against the Czech Republic and will be keen to improve on the final preparation performance which raised some concerns over their credentials. The Czechs have admitted that this first game is a tough start but that they are not just here to make up the numbers.
The current holders are looking to write a new chapter in the history books of the European Championships being the first team to win it a third consecutive time. What an opportunity for these players, and their coach, to take on legendary status.
Vicente del Bosque seems to have pretty much nailed down the starting XI following mixed performances during the pre-tournamnent friendlies. The areas where there were several players fighting to prove themselves top of the list - most notably up front - has been filtered down to starters and back-up while the goalkeeping decision is possibly the only position still unclear. The players are looking to replicate on a international level the strength of the nation's clubs in European football dominance in the past season.
Possibly captained by Iker Casillas, although still in doubt, the Spanish side will be based around the quick passing, possession hoarding style that they are now reknowned for and this will almost certainly see Ramos, Piqué and Busquets providing the defensive soliditity and control, Alba and Juanfran getting up and down the wings and Iniesta, Cesc and Silva looking for ways to create openings for the hard-working attackline of Morata and Nolito.
This Czech side had a strong showing through their qualifying campaign but know that they face a big challenge in their opening game. Under the leadership of Pavel Vrba, the side finished top of their group and in the process prevented the Netherlands from reaching France.