World champions France beat Germany in a blockbuster Euro 2020 clash on Tuesday, after Cristiano Ronaldo became the all-time top European Championship goal-scorer as holders Portugal started their campaign with a 3-0 win over Hungary in Budapest.
In Munich, a 20th-minute Mats Hummels own goal proved enough for 2018 World Cup winners France to beat 2014 World Cup winners Germany in Group F.
France deserved the win, with both Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema having second-half goals disallowed for tight offside calls while Adrien Rabiot also hit the post for Les Bleus.
“I knew my players would be ready and they were up for the fight,” France coach Didier Deschamps told broadcaster M6.
“It’s our first match, but this is a game that could have been a semifinal or a final and to take these three points in a group like this was important.”
The win was savoured by a small band of French fans among the crowd in the Allianz Arena, which was limited to just 20 per cent of capacity because of Covid-19 restrictions.
It was also enjoyed by fans back home in France who packed into bars to see their team kick off their bid to add the European crown to the World Cup they won in Russia three years ago, despite the game ending just before the 11:00 pm nationwide coronavirus curfew.
Germany’s defeat turns up the pressure on them in what is coach Joachim Loew’s last tournament in charge before he steps down.
“France have shown they are one of the favourites and now we have to prove that too in the next game,” Germany’s Joshua Kimmich said.
RONALDO SURPASSES PLATINI
Germany’s next game is against Portugal, the Euro 2016 winners who got off to the perfect start in Group F as Ronaldo netted his 10th and 11th goals at European Championships, surpassing the previous record of nine held by France legend Michel Platini.
Portugal appear to have a much stronger squad than when they won their first major title five years ago, yet they laboured for long periods in Budapest before Raphael Guerreiro made the breakthrough in the 84th minute.
Ronaldo then slammed in a penalty shortly afterwards before tapping home in injury time.
The 36-year-old has now scored at five different European Championship finals tournaments and has 106 goals for his country in total, leaving him just three away from matching Iranian Ali Daei’s all-time international scoring record of 109.
“I am really grateful to the team for helping me to score twice and be named man of the match,” Ronaldo said.
He broke the record before by far the biggest crowd of the tournament so far, with Budapest the only Euro 2020 venue not to limit fan capacity due to Covid-19.
The Puskas Arena has a capacity of almost 68 000 fans.
BUDAPEST FULL HOUSE
“We didn’t deserve a 3-0 defeat, with a bit of luck it could have been a point each, but it was an experience of a lifetime,” said Hungary goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.
Hungarian newspaper Nemzeti Sport said the crowd of around 65 000 was the biggest at a game in the country since a World Cup warm-up against Brazil in 1986.
Back in Munich, a disaster was narrowly averted before the game when a Greenpeace activist crash-landed on the pitch after his powered parachute microlight struck spidercam cables.
The pilot flew over the pitch with “Kick out oil” written on the canopy of his parachute, but when the pilot hit television cables above the pitch, it knocked his microlight off balance and he landed on the turf after clipping one of the stands.
“This inconsiderate act… caused injuries to several people attending the game who are now in hospital and law authorities will take the necessary action,” Uefa said.
Meanwhile in Copenhagen Christian Eriksen continued his recovery following his collapse in Denmark’s opening game against Finland last Saturday.
On Tuesday Eriksen published a photo of his tired but smiling face from his hospital bed.
“I’m fine – under the circumstances, I still have to go through some examinations at the hospital, but I feel okay,” he wrote in a post on Instagram.
Wednesday will see the first of the second round of group games, with Russia hosting Finland in Saint Petersburg before Turkey take on Wales in Baku and Italy face Switzerland in Rome.