PARIS, June 13: Reigning champions Spain left it late but Gerard Pique�s 87th-minute header earned them a deserved 1-0 victory over a dogged Czech Republic in their Euro Group D opener on Monday.
Pique headed in Andres Iniesta�s perfect cross to give Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech no chance after he had made several fine saves to put his side within sight of an unlikely draw.
Cech reacted well to deny Alvaro Morata and David Silva in the first half while Czech defender Roman Hubnik deflected Morata�s shot against his own post.
Spain were given a fright when a stretching Hubnik forced a save from David de Gea and Cesc Fabregas made a goalline clearance to keep out Theodor Gebre Selassie�s header.
But Pique ensured the champions began with a victory to join Croatia on three points.
Germany start with a 2-0 win over Ukraine: Germany began its campaign to add the 2016 European Championship to its 2014 World Cup with a promising 2-0 victory over Ukraine on Sunday, while England and Russia were threatened with expulsion from the tournament.
Shkodran Mustafi�s header set Germany on its way to a win that was sealed by substitute Bastian Schweinsteiger in the second minute of injury time, just two minutes after the midfielder had come on to the pitch.
The day�s earlier matches both ended in 1-0 victories, with a wonder strike from Luka Modric seeing Croatia past Turkey in a bruising encounter and Arkadiusz Milik scoring for Poland against Northern Ireland.
The football followed a blunt warning from UEFA to England and Russia that their presence at Euro 2016 could be short-lived if their violent fans continued to cause havoc.
Expressing its �utter disgust� over three days of disorder in Marseille, European soccer�s ruling body said it warned both football associations that �it will not hesitate to impose additional sanctions including the potential disqualification of their respective teams from the tournament, should such violence occur again.�
If the hooligans have marred the start of the tournament, Schweinsteiger�s strike after a lightening counterattack and Modric�s stunning volley provided a welcome reminder of what has brought up to 2 million soccer fans to France.
Germany surged forward on the break and Mesut Ozil provided the perfect cross from the left flank for his teammate to hammer into the net.
�A Bastian Schweinsteiger is worth his weight in gold,� Germany coach Joachim Loew said.
Schweinsteiger, who suffered his second serious knee injury of the year in training on March 22 and hadn�t played since, could barely believe the way his luck had turned.
�Incredible that something like this can happen, you can only wish for it,� he said.
Poland edge past Northern Ireland: Poland fully deserved its victory over a Northern Ireland side that looked out of its depth on the big stage.
With Poland forward Robert Lewandowski, qualifying�s top scorer, marked out of large stretches of the game, there was space for others to make an impact. One was attacking midfielder Milik, who scored the decisive goal with a low shot in the 51st minute.
Poland could have easily scored more were it not for some erratic shooting.
Their players might learn something from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose Sweden side plays Ireland on what should be a great day of football late on Monday. Spain, which is bidding for a third consecutive European crown, takes on the Czech Republic in their opening match, while the action ends with a promising Belgium side facing Italy. � Agencies