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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kohler Injury Mars Strong German Win

LONDON -- Favorite Germany began its Euro 96 campaign with a convincing 2-0 victory over the Czech Republic but lost key defender Juergen Kohler through injury in the process.


Kohler, who had said Euro 96 would be his last major tournament, limped off after tearing ligaments in his right ankle.


Germany, quoted at 7-2 favorites after Sunday's group C win, scored two spectacular first-half goals through Christian Ziege and Andy Moeller.


But coach Berti Vogts' joy was tempered by the loss of Kohler, whose sliding tackle against Czech striker Pavel Kuka after less than 10 minutes of the game ended in the Borussia Dortmund stopper's being carried off with a damaged knee and out of the tournament.


But Vogts said, "I hope that wasn't his final game. I expect Juergen to come back and, if he is fit, look forward to seeing him back in the national team."


"The good news is that an operation will not be necessary and the healing process will go on by itself," said Kohler, capped 84 times.


Vogts said the injury was a major blow to Germany's campaign but that he was pleased with the performance of replacement Markus Babbel of Bayern Munich.


"It has hit us hard because he is perhaps the best defender in the whole tournament," Vogts said. "But Markus Babbel did very well today."


But the German manager said he was unhappy the tournament favorites let the Czechs come back into the game in the second half and put his team under pressure.


"We had a good first 60 minutes, but for 30 minutes in the second half we didn't react much. I will have to talk to my team about that," he said.


Spain 1, Bulgaria 1. Substitute Alfonso Perez saved Spain from defeat on its opening match with his first touch of the ball, sending home a 74th-minute equalizer to give Spain a 1-1 draw against Bulgaria.


Alfonso, who came on seconds before scoring, was just inside the six-meter box when he turned a shot from the left by Sergi Barjuan past goalkeeper Boris Mihailov.


Sergi's involvement in the equalizer redeemed the Barcelona defender from his part in Bulgaria's goal nine minutes earlier in the group B clash when he brought down Emil Kostadinov and Hristo Stoichkov converted the penalty.


Bulgaria was a man short when Spain equalized. Sweeper Petar Hubchev was shown the red card two minutes earlier for pulling down Jose Luis Caminero just outside the penalty area.


Spain striker Juan Pizzi was also dismissed two minutes after the equalizer for a foul on young Bulgarian defender Radostin Kishishev.


Group B favorites Spain should have gone in at halftime in the lead, but Athletic Bilbao's Julen Guerrero had an unhappy match in a key role behind Pizzi in attack. Guerrero missed an open goal early on, then opted to put the ball square when he could have shot late in the second half and Hubchev lunged to deflect the pass.


Denmark 1, Portugal 1. An exhilarating display by Portugal earned only partial reward as it drew 1-1 with defending European champion Denmark.


A 53rd-minute header by Sa Pinto cancelled out a 21st-minute goal from Danish striker Brian Laudrup, but no one was left in any doubt which side is the more likely to make an impact in Euro 96.


Inspired by Rui Costa and Joao Pinto, the Portuguese were only denied by the skill of Danish goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, who made a number of inspirational saves.


Only the Danes will know how they managed to be ahead at the interval, given the quality of their opponents' play in almost every department.


Baia had not had a save to make when his attempted clearance in the 21st minute took a cruel rebound off Mikkel Bech to Brian Laudrup, who cut in from the left and hammered a right-foot shot into the top corner.


But an extraordinary succession of flicks, back-heels and dummies carved out numerous chances at the Danish end and it needed all Schmeichel's brilliance to keep them out.


Just eight minutes into the second half Joao Pinto broke clear on the left and centered to his strike partner Sa Pinto, who headed the bounding ball unerringly into Schmeichel's bottom corner.


Scotland 0, The Netherlands 0. Underdogs Scotland put up a spirited battle to hold the fancied Dutch to a goalless draw in their opening match of the European championship on Monday.


With the Dutch starting as if they aimed to win at a canter, Scotland looked overawed by the orange armada facing them in the early part of the game.


But once Dennis Bergkamp and his team mates had squandered everal early chances, Scotland seemed to realise that the Dutch were only human after all and forced their way into the match.


The Dutch team, built around a nucleus of Ajax Amsterdam players, crucially missed three of the most important -- the suspended Danny Blind and injured Frank De Boer and Marc Overmars, both ruled out of the tournament before it began.