RSL players excel in Euro 2024 Matchday One

Roshn Saudi League players starred in the opening round of matches at the UEFA European Championship Germany 2024, with two picking up Player of the Match awards - the joint-best among the global leagues.

It may not have been the ideal start for RSL players when the tournament got under way on Friday at the Allianz Arena in Munich, where Al Ettifaq centre-back Jack Hendry played all 90 minutes for Scotland in a 5-1 defeat by hosts Germany.

However, Damac and Romania captain Nicolae Stanciu struck an early contender for goal of the tournament, rifling in from long range to open the scoring in his side's 3-0 victory against Ukraine in their Group E curtain-raiser. The 31-year-old’s overall performance earned him the award for the game's best player.

Following in his footsteps, Al Ittihad midfielder N’Golo Kante rolled back the years, delivering a vintage performance in France’s 1-0 win over Austria. Kante produced a dominant display in the middle of the park, helping his side retain control of the game and, when Kylian Mbappe went off injured, the 33-year-old was handed the captain’s armband for the first time in a major tournament.

"There was some apprehension, but it was nice to start together and get those feelings back,” Kante said after the game. “It all went great. We're human - we fight together for the result and we'll keep doing that.

"It was the first time I got to wear the France armband. It was an honour, though it was only for a few moments. I'm very proud of that."

Meanwhile, Al Nassr captain Cristiano Ronaldo was one of his side’s best performers, completing the 90 minutes as Portugal started their Euro 2024 campaign with a 2-1 comeback win against Czechia.

The 39-year-old, top scorer in the recently concluded 2023-24 RSL, saw a header come off the post and a free-kick saved by Czech goalkeeper Jindrich Stanek, while his exquisite backheel pass to Vitinha very nearly notched another assist for the RSL record-breaker.

Elsewhere, Al Okhdood's Solomon Kvirkvelia wrote his name in his country's history books as part of Georgia’s first-ever starting XI in a major tournament as he played 85 minutes in the 3-1 defeat to Merih Demiral’s Türkiye.

Also, Al Nassr's Aymeric Laporte missed out on Spain's 3-0 win over club teammate Marcelo Brozovic’s Croatia, with the defender suffering a minor injury in the build-up to the game. The duo at Riyadh rivals Al Hilal, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, might feel slightly hard done by following Serbia's narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of heavy favourites England, although there were positive signs for their team.

Rounding up the RSL's contribution, Al Ettifaq captain Georginio Wijnaldum made a 30-minute cameo for the Netherlands, coming on to replace Joey Veerman as his side saw off Poland 2-1.