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Published: 15:09 | 13/6/16

Spain strike late to beat Czech Republic

Pique header seals win for holders

Gerard Pique headed a late winner as Spain got their European Championships defence off to a winning start with a 1-0 victory over the Czech Republic in Toulouse.

Vicente del Bosque's side dominated this Group D encounter for long spells, but were unable to find a way past a solid Czech defence until the 87th minute when Pique headed Andres Iniesta's sublime cross beyond Petr Cech from close range to seal a deserved victory.

There had been much speculation over whether David De Gea or Iker Casillas would start in goal for the Spanish and the debate was finally answered when the Manchester United goalkeeper was selected to start.

The reigning European Champions dominated the first-half with 68 per cent of the possession but they were unable beat Petr Cech in the opposing goal.

They should have been on the scoresheet early one when David Silva broke down the right but Cech was well placed to stop Alvaro Morata's strike and a short time later the Arsenal shotstopper once again foiled Morata.

Andreas Iniesta went close too when he spotted Cech off his line but his effort went over the bar, while Alba was denied by the goalkeeper.

Having had very little to do for the majority of the first-half, De Gea was called into action just before the interval when he denied Tomas Necid and the half-time whistle ended with the game finely-balanced at 0-0.

Spain continued to pile on the pressure after the interval and the Czech Republic had the post to thank when Roman Hubnik almost turned Morata's strike into his own goal but he made amends minutes later when he threatened to give his side the lead, only for De Gea to keep out his effort.

Vicente Del Bosque brough on Aritz Aduriz for Morata but their frustrations in front of goal continued with Aduriz and Silva both missing opportunities.

However, just when it looked as though the game would end without a goal, Pique rose to meet Iniesta's cross to direct the ball beyond Cech.

With time ticking down, the Czech Republic went in search of an equaliser and almost got it in stoppage time only for De Gea to save Vladimir Darida's strike and secure all three points for the defending champions.

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