Pique scores late, gives Spain opening win at Euro 2016
TOULOUSE: Gerard Pique finally broke down the Czech Republic's stubborn defense with a goal in the 87th minute to give Spain a 1-0 victory in the opening match of its European Championship title defense on Monday.
Pique ran behind the defenders and calmly headed the ball into the net after a well-placed left-flank cross by Andres Iniesta to give Spain the Group D victory.
The two-time defending champions had created a series of scoring chances throughout the match at the Stadium de Toulouse but looked set to being denied victory by a brilliant performance from Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Cech.
The Czechs barely threatened Spain goalkeeper David De Gea until Gebre Selassie's header. The team's lone chance in the first half came when Tomas Necid's shot drew a save by De Gea in injury time.
It was Spain's first win in the opening match of a major tournament since beating Russia 4-1 at Euro 2008. It had lost to Switzerland in the 2010 World Cup, drawn Italy in Euro 2012 and lost to the Netherlands in the 2014 World Cup.
Spain won the last two European Championships but is trying to redeem itself from a disappointing early elimination in the World Cup in Brazil, when it arrived as the favorite but couldn't make it out of the group stage.