The luck of the Irish has not been kind ever since a certain Thierry Henry was banned from their nation. But since then they qualified for the Euros, any luck? Hell no! Croatia stood in their way as they were annihilated 3-1 by the Group C outsiders. Mario Mandzukic’s early header put the Croats ahead, before centre back Sean St Ledger proved himself a saint as he nodded the Irish back into the game, before Everton striker Nikica Jelavic put Croatia into half time 2-1 up. Then just after half time, Irish keeper Shay Given scored an own goal to put the Irish towards misery as they crumbled to an opening defeat.
The Spanish and Italians were coming from two different ends of the world, the Spanish regarded as geniuses, and the Italians regarded as match-fixing cheats. But Italy didn’t let that get in their way with a tough 1-1 draw with the favourites. Spain, playing without a recognised striker, were passing their way through Italy like a knife through butter but it was Italy who struck first through Di Natale, but Fabregas equalised straight after to share the points.
So Group C was a good start, can Group D live up to the hype?
By Jason Barr