Amsterdam: Gritty Ukraine came back with two goals but Denzel Dumfries’ late winner helped the Netherlands to a 3-2 win at home at Euro 2020 on Sunday.
On the third match day, Austria beat North Macedonia 3–1 and England beat Croatia 1–0.
The Dutch, also known as ‘Elftal’, took control from the opening whistle, and should have found the opener early in the game, but Memphis Depay, Dumfries and Georginio Wijnaldum lacked accuracy.
A powerful performance from the Dutch was witnessed by 16,000 spectators at the Amsterdam Johan Cruzff Arena, yet they remained in vain.
After the interval, the hosts were able to convert their chances into rewards.
Ukraine goalkeeper Herhi Buschen blocked a cross en route to Wijnaldum, which swung the opener from 13 meters to the top left corner in the second half in seven minutes.
Frank de Boer’s men gained momentum and made it 2–0 in the 59th minute, when Weghorst used a loose ball inside the box to poke home from six metres.
‘Elftal’ thought the game was sealed, but Ukraine halved the deficit against the flow of the game, with 75 minutes remaining when Andrey Yarmolenko traded Roman Yaremchuk, the ceiling of the net from 20 metres. before attacking the house.
Four minutes later, things went from bad to worse for the Netherlands as Yeremchuk stunned the hosts after going home with a free-kick cross from Ruslan Malinowski. The score was 2-all.
But the Dutch remained unaffected and won late as Nathan Eck’s curl in the field allowed Dumfries to wrap up all three points in their opening game of Group C in front of the home crowd.
“It was a very fast and interesting game with lots of opportunities for both the teams. I want to thank my team for coming back, especially after going down 2-0,” said Ukraine head coach Andrey Shevchenko.
It was a slow burn between Austria and North Macedonia in Bucharest as Stefan Lenner opened the scoring with the first chance in the 18th minute. The Austrian defender took a close hand over Stoll Dmitrievski to capitalize on Marcel Sabitzer’s pinpoint cross to the far post.
Austria’s lead did not last long as North Macedonia bounced back 10 minutes later, when Goran Pandav took advantage of a ricocheted ball inside the box to drive home the equalizer.
After the interval, Igor Angelowski’s men took control and pressed Austria on the back-foot in the opening stages as Austrian goalkeeper Daniel Beckmann denied Boban Nikolov an hour into the game.
Austria’s head coach Franco Foda reacted to his team’s performance and fielded Michael Gregorish and Marko Arnatovic.
Foda’s replacement paid off as Gregoritz made the most of David Alaba’s cross in the box, giving Austria a 2–1 lead in the 78th minute.
North Macedonia’s resistance broke down as Arnautovic made it three after slotting home Lanner’s back-heel pass in the final moments of the game.
“Overall, I was very pleased with the performance. We started well, worked hard, were aggressive and deserved to go on,” said Austrian head coach Franco Foda.
Elsewhere, England broke their opening Euro match as they beat Croatia 1–0 at Wembley Stadium in London, courtesy of a goal from Raheem Sterling.
Phil Foden sharpened the woodwork and Calvin Phillips opened a dangerous volley in the early stages. As the match progressed, England’s momentum waned, while Croatia gained a foothold in the contest without loss.
England eventually snatched the winner at the hour mark when Sterling beat Croatia goalkeeper Dominic Livkovic to benefit from Philip’s defence-splitting through-ball.