Spain start with win but look ill-equipped for title defence

Spain's Euro title defence looks shaky with unproven forwards like Alvaro Morata leading the line.
Spain's Euro title defence looks shaky with unproven forwards like Alvaro Morata leading the line.

(Gerard Pique 87)



Spain's lack of finishing prowess up front threatens to derail their Euro 2016 campaign even as they carved out a winning start on Monday (June 13).

The 1-0 victory, courtesy of a late header by Gerard Pique, over Czech Republic in Toulouse left them looking like anything but contenders.

Unless coach Vicente del Bosque can turn his goal-shy forwards into prolific marksmen overnight, the defending European champions face another campaign of disappointment.

With a dearth in proven goal-scorers at his disposal, the Spain boss has been searching for the right formula for years.

Against the Czechs, del Bosque went for three up front, which consisted of David Silva and recognised forwards Alvaro Morata and Nolito.

Evidently though, quantity isn't the solution here.

Morata's mediocre display in the middle culminated in his substitution in the 65th minute, when he was replaced by 35-year-old striker Aritz Aduriz.

On the left, Nolito spent the entire game trying to grapple with Czech Republic's offside trap.

While Silva offered more purpose and drive, he was never much of a direct goal threat to begin with.

Eventually, a centre back showed them the way.

Pique, venturing upfield to lend some last-minute aerial help, leapt highest to nod home unmarked three minutes from time to deliver the three points.



But there was nothing much to savour here.

In fact, this is a stern warning of what is to come.

Schweinsteiger's back as Germany start with win

Germany's midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger celebrates after scoring a goal during the Euro 2016 group C football match between Germany and Ukraine at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.

Bastian Schweinsteiger had time for three touches of the ball and scored with one as world champions Germany started their European Championship campaign with a 2-0 win over Ukraine.

The 31-year-old Manchester United midfielder came on in the 90th minute and quickly put away a perfect pass from Mesut Ozil for the deciding goal.

With fan violence again tainting the tournament, Germany’s win followed 1-0 victories for Poland over Northern Ireland and Croatia over Turkey.

Schweinsteiger is coming back from a three month knee ligament layoff and the the joy of his first international goal in five years apparently took a toll.

“I ran so hard in the celebrations that I’m a bit out of breath still.

“It was amazing for that to happen, it’s the kind of thing you can only wish for, but the most important thing is the team wins,” he said of his quickfire goal in the Group C match.



Defender Shkodran Mustafi headed the opener in the first half but goalkeeper Manuel Neus had to make several key saves and Jerome Boateng made a spectacular goalline clearance to block a sure equaliser.

Germany coach Joachim Loew hailed Boateng, who was the target of right-wing German politician Alexander Gauland this month.

Gauland said Germans would not want Boateng as their neighbour and that the national team was no longer “German in the classical sense.”

“It is good to have Jerome Boateng as your neighbour in the defence,” countered Loew.“He sees dangerous situations, he reacted and very clearly the ball was not behind the line.”

The evening was only blemished by fighting between German and Ukraine supporters in Lille before the game. German police said they arrested 21 known hooligans who tried to get across the border. Another 50 leading suspects took part in the skirmishes which followed the major battles between Russia and England fans in Marseille.

Ukrainian fans holding smoke bobs react as they watch the Euro 2016 group C football match Germany vs Ukraine. PHOTO: AFP

A fan gatecrashed Luka Modric’s celebrations after he scored Croatia’s Group D winner over Turkey with a brilliant volley.

The Real Madrid playmaker performed an equally spectacular knee dive into the corner of the Parc des Princes, where he was joined by team-mates but also a fan in a Croatia replica shirt and red and white painted head.

Stewards led the man away after the security breach.“It could have been also a supporter from Turkey, but thank God it was our supporter! After scoring this kind of goal, I didn’t even notice,” Modric said.

Croatia coach Ante Cacic said the goal had been “magical”.

It was Modric’s 11th goal for his country and they have never lost when he has scored.“Luka really deserves to be talked about, especially after this match,” said Cacic. “It was one of his best matches in Croatia’s history. He was really playing well. He was really our leader.”

Poland striker Arkadiusz Milik rifled home the only goal in his country’s Group C win over Northern Ireland in Nice – his country’s first ever at a European Championship final.

Poland's Arkadiusz Milik scores their first goal. PHOTO: REUTERS

Poland had three draws and three losses over two appearances in 2008 and 2012.

Coach Adam Nawalka is now looking forward to playing Germany at the Stade de France on June 16 with a spot in the last 16 likely to be at stake.

“We have been preparing for them for a long time, we prepare to win against Gemany,” said Nawalka.

For Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland, it was a disappointing end to their first ever European Championship match. It was also 30-years to the day since their last game in a major tournament – a 3-0 defeat by Brazil at the 1986 World Cup.

Northern Ireland kept the lid on Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski, but still needed some spectacular saves by Michael McGovern in goal to stay in the game.

“It was a difficult match. Poland were excellent,” said O’Neill.“At times early on we were almost overpowered by their physical strength. We tried to get something out of it, but didn’t manage to create anything of significance. In all honesty, the best team won on the day.”

Northern Ireland now play Ukraine in Lyon on Thursday with both sides needing a win to stay in the hunt for the knockout stages.

Security job provides job security

Even as news of retrenchment at an integrated resort makes headlines and a sluggish economy results in companies cutting costs, the security industry is bucking the trend and seeking more staff. MALLIKA SRIRAM ( finds out more

HARD-WORKING: Mr Luke Goh found work in the security industry after selling off his insurance company in 2008.
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World of Warcraft helps Singapore mum recover from aneurysm

With popular online game World Of Warcraft finally making it to the big screen last week in the epic fantasy film Warcraft: The Beginning, we catch up with Singapore superfans who say their lives were changed by it

TEAMWORK: (From left) Jason, Mr Austin Lay, Trisha and Mrs Tanja Lay at the World Of Warcraft 10th anniversary event at Zouk in December 2014.
TEAMWORK: The family often completes quests together.

She overcomes brain injury, now family of 8 plays together

A family that plays together stays together - that is how housewife Tanja Lay, 37, feels when she plays the online role-playing game World Of Warcraft (WOW) with her husband and six children, aged four to 18.

"It's an enjoyment for your child to come to you and want to do something with you, rather than for them to go out all day," she told The New Paper.

It also changed Mrs Lay's life. She credits the game with helping her "recover" from a medical setback.

In 2012, she suffered from a ruptured brain aneurysm and it affected an artery on the left side of the brain, which is used for language.

She had trouble forming sentences and reading after undergoing surgery to clip the aneurysm.

She recalled: "I could only read and talk like a seven- or eight-year-old. My mind would go completely blank. I would get panic attacks."

This led to depression and a fear of meeting new people, for which she has been seeing a psychiatrist every one to two months for the past four years.

Her husband, Mr Austin Lay, an IT manager, 39, suggested she play WOW to regain confidence in communicating by typing through the game's chat system.

He introduced WOW to her in 2007, after playing it himself a year earlier.

Tanja Lay (bottom right) plays World of Warcraft with her husband and six children.

And one to two months after the surgery, that was what Mrs Lay did. She was initially hooked on WOW for its gameplay and diverse creatures.

She made so much progress before her first visit to a speech therapist that follow-ups were not needed.

She said she regained her reading and speech abilities after playing for five months.

Mrs Lay still has trouble with remembering music and playing the piano, both of which she excelled at before the aneurysm.


However, she is still thankful for her recovery, adding: "I feel very grateful to (Warcraft developer) Blizzard Entertainment for this game.

"That's why I tend to (trust) their products."

Mrs Lay typically plays WOW for up to three hours a day and prioritises her errands as a housewife. Mr Lay mainly plays on weekends due to his work commitments.

Mrs Lay also feels blessed that she gets to share her passion with her five sons and only daughter.

As their children grew and started playing computer games with their friends, their parents introduced WOW to them.

Trisha, 18, and Jason, 16, joined their parents on WOW in 2012, with Rykel, 13, and Ryan, 11, joining two years later. They all have their own accounts.

Justin, six, and Ashton, four, only play using their parents' accounts.

TEAMWORK: (Above, clockwise from girl in red) Siblings Trisha, Jason, Rykel, Ashton, Ryan, Justin. 

With the exception of the two youngest boys, the family teams up for multi-player events such as quests and raids when they are free.

Each session is usually held in the master bedroom of their condominium unit. The parents use desktop computers and the children use their own laptops.

Sessions typically last for one to two hours, but the family has played for up to five hours on certain raids.

Mrs Lay said: "To see everyone so enthusiastically doing something as a family... as a mother, it's a very loving feeling."

She feels that the teamwork required on WOW has strengthened their ties and her children are able to organise themselves when assigned household chores.

Trisha, a student at ITE College West, agreed that the game has made her closer to her brothers.

She said: "It feels cool to be playing with them and having a great bond with them."

Despite being the eldest, she prefers not to assume leadership roles in the game, nor is there a clear hierarchy among the siblings in real life.

Jason, the oldest son and a student at Bukit Batok Secondary School, added: "I feel very lucky because not many parents play games with their children... My friends say that I am lucky."

Despite the family's love for WOW, Mrs Lay is determined not to let their gaming activities become excessive.

She locks the children's accounts during the school semester and they do not have any issues with discipline.

Jason, who is studying for his N-level exams this year, said: "I'm okay with my parents locking my account. If they didn't, I might lose focus on my studies."

I could only read and talk like a seven- or eight-year-old. My mind would go completely blank. I would get panic attacks.

- Mrs Tanja Lay, who says she regained her reading and speech abilities after playing online massively multi-player role-playing game World Of Warcraft for five months.

School of frock

So what if the CFDA Fashion Awards and CMT Music Awards happened last week? You know the stars weren't even trying when a beauty queen in a black gown trumps them all

Pia Wurtzbach.


Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas

Gown: Venexiana

Clutch: Amanda Pearl

Now this is posing like your life depended on it. The reigning Miss Universe from the Philippines is so poised and regal in this black caped gown, there can be no doubt that she deserved to be crowned queen.

Ratings: A-


The Neon Demon photocall in Rome

Dress: Giamba

Shoes: Christian Louboutin

So Fanning's doing her modern fairy princess thing again. She's a pale chick and the ruffled babydoll dress is washing her out, but it is still rather charming.

Ratings: B-


CMT Music Awards in Nashville, Tennessee

Romper: Not known

And you thought Britney Spears needed help. Looking at her little sister here, style problems are clearly genetic. If you can't bring yourself to dress better than what you'd throw on to go to the mall, just stay home.

Ratings: D+


Elle's Women In Comedy event in Los Angeles

Top and pants: Monique Lhuillier

Who you gonna call? We suggest a new stylist for Ghostbusters star Wiig. Shiny pyjamas on the red carpet are already a frightful sight, the least she could have done is hem those circus stilt walker pants.

Ratings: D-


CFDA Fashion Awards in New York City

Top and pants: Marc Jacobs

For an event supposed to celebrate the best in fashion design, the majority of attendees turned up in quite the opposite - with Lima the worst offender. She really needs to put a tailor on speed dial. Those baggy velvet trousers baffle me. It's just head-to-toe insanity.

Ratings: F



This cool Givenchy sparkly pinstripe pantsuit - plus wide-brimmed hat - is such a deviation from Beyonce's usual tight lacy and/or embellished dresses, I can't help but give her a slow clap for finally trying something new. Hadid, on the other hand, isn't bringing anything ground-breaking to the table with her sexier take.

De Grisogono party at the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, May 17

CFDA Fashion Awards in New York City, June 6