David Silva won his 100th cap for his country in Spain’s 1-0 win over Czech Republic.
The 30-year old was arguably Spain’s best player in a tough, hotly-contested encounter against a pragmatic, well-organised Czech side in their opening Euro 2016 match.
The back-to-back winners had to be patient, waiting until the 87th minute for the game's only goal which came courtesy of Gerard Pique’s crashing back post header from an Iniesta cross.
Silva played all 90 minutes and created a number of scoring opportunities for his teammates, also having a couple of efforts of his own which went close to breaking down their obdurate opposition before the late winner.
The City playmaker, who made his international debut in November 2006, played a key role in both of Spain’s previous European Championships wins in 2008 and 2012.
He started on the right side of Vincente Del Bosque’s 4-3-3, though he had a license to roam across forward positions where he made his usual flitting runs and clever passes to link together the reigning champions’ moves.
David was one of seven who started the last final in Kyiv against Italy four years ago with David De Gea preferred to Iker Casillas in goal and Alvaro Morata named as the main striker either side of Silva and Nolito.
Spain were up against a defensive Czech side managed by a manager well-known to City: Viktoria Plzen boss Pavel Vrba who caused a few problems for the Blues in the Champions League a couple of seasons ago.
Following a cagey opening to the game, Spain had the first good chance to open the scoring after 16 minutes when Silva laid it on a plate to Alvaro Morata with a brilliant cross from the right side but Petr Cech came to Czech Republic’s rescue with a point blank reaction save.
With 11 men behind the ball, breaking the was hard-going for the holders in the first half but Silva did get into a shooting position in the closing minutes on the half, only to find Cech once again alive to the danger with the Arsenal ‘keeper smothering the ball at his feet on the corner of the six-yard box.
Spain’s struggles to create clear-cut chances in spite of their domination of possession almost came back to haunt them twice either side of the hour mark.
First, Roman Hubnik forced De Gea into a smart save down to his right before Cesc Fabregas cleared off his line acrobatically to spectacularly preserve parity.
Silva was once again the architect of another great chance for Jordi Alba with 20 minutes to go, dinking a glorious ball over and in behind the Czech defence but the Barcelona full-back overran it and dithered, failing to get his shot away.
The City man took matters into his own hands a minute later when he opened up his body to shoot from the edge of the box and his effort wasn’t far away from curling back around and inside the far corner.
King of Spain
Just when it looked as though the game was petering out to a goalless draw, Iniesta produced a stunning cross for Pique to head in the winning goal at the back post with three minutes to go.
Spain lost their opening game of World Cup 2010 and drew their opening match of Euro 2012 and went on to triumph – with a winning start this time, they will fancy their chances of going far.