The Netherlands won their opening match of the European Championship with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Ukraine in Amsterdam.
Both sides created chances in a lively but goalless first half. Denzel Dumfries missed a free header from six yards out for the Dutch, and Georginio Wijnaldum’s booming volley was well saved by Heorhiy Bushchan. Meanwhile, neat interplay between Roman Yaremchuk and Andriy Yarmolenko twice came within inches of getting the Ukraine through on goal.
It was Wijnadlum that then put the Dutch ahead early in the second half, with Wout Weghorst doubling the lead soon after. With 15 minutes left the Ukrainians drew level in sensational fashion, with Yarmolenko curling the ball in from long range and Yaremchuk glancing in a header from a free-kick shortly after. Dumfries then settled the match with a towering header five minutes from time.
The Ukraine will now travel to Bucharest to face North Macedonia on Thursday afternoon, while the Netherlands stay in Amsterdam to face Austria later that night.
Georginio Wijnaldum (L) celebrates with teammates
Image credit: Getty Images
How far can the Dutch go? For five-sixths of the game tonight the Dutch looked much more than the dark horses many have tipped them as, taking charge of the match early in the second half and seemingly in total control.
An alarming wobble before the end was just about rectified with the late header from Dumfries, and such an enigmatic performance in the match of the tournament so far makes the Dutch an intriguing prospect for the rest of it. This is their first appearance at a major finals since 2014, and on the evidence of tonight it doesn’t look like it will be dull while they’re around.
If they can overcome the long-term absence of Virgil van Dijk sufficiently, this team has the kind of energetic and potent attack to cause anyone problems. Matthijs de Ligt is still to come back into the side; if that tightens things up for the Dutch at the back, they have the potential to go deep into this tournament.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Denzel Dumfries (Netherlands)
The Dutch right back had a superb evening on the front foot for the hosts, looking dangerous every time he went forwards and creating the first two goals for his side. He missed a simple header at goal in the first half but made up for it by powering in the winner from a similar position five minutes from time.
Denzel Dumfries of Netherlands celebrates after scoring their side's third goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group C match between Netherlands and Ukraine at the Johan Cruijff ArenA on June 13, 2021 in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Image credit: Getty Images
Netherlands (3-5-2): Stekelenberg 6; Timber 6, de Vrij 6, Blind 6; Dumfries 8, de Roon 6, Wijnaldum 7, F de Jong 7, van Aanholt 7; Weghorst 7, Depay 7. Subs: Wijndal 6, Ake 7, Veltman 6, L de Jong 6, Malen 6
27’ CHANCES! Weghorst is in, one on one, and tries to go around Bushchan who hooks it into his body superbly to prevent a certain goal. The Ukraine break immediately, with Yaremchuk back-heeling a pass to Yarmolenko in the Dutch area. Just as Yarmolenko opens up to shoot, a despairing tackle from van Aanholt pokes the ball away from danger!
39’ GOOD SAVE! After a chipped pass by de Jong into the box is headed clear, Wijnaldum booms in a ferocious volley from the edge that Bushchan parries away. That was shifting, and Bushchan had very little time to react.
40’ WHAT A MISS! Dumfries, who looks the most likely for the Netherlands, walks on to a cross at the back post but heads hopelessly wide from six yards out!
52’ GOAL! Netherlands 1-0 Ukraine (Wijnaldum): The Dutch are ahead! A long, low ball somehow squirms through to Dumfries down the right. He crosses low into the area, where Bushchan dives out to divert the ball away from Depay at the back post. The ball falls to WIjnaldum on the edge, and he booms it into the roof of the net!
58’ GOAL! Netherlands 2-0 Ukraine (Weghorst): It's two! Dumfries causes havoc down the right again, barrelling in to the area on the right from a through ball. He jumps around Mikolenko, who hits the deck, and from the light clash of bodies it breaks to Weghorst, who shoots through Bushchan to double the lead! It's VAR checked for offside as Dumfries carried on running towards goal and near to Bushchan, but it stands.
75’ GOAL! Netherlands 2-1 Ukraine (Yarmolenko): What a pearler from Yarmolenko! He cuts in from the right, plays a one-two with Yaremchuk and then curls a glorious 20-yarder into the top corner past Stekelenburg. Ukraine's captain has dragged them back into it!
79’ GOAL! Netherlands 2-2 Ukraine (Yaremchuk): Oh my word, they're level! Malinovskiy absolutely bullets in a whipped ball from the free kick, and Yaremchuk rises near the penalty spot to glance the ball into the corner of the net! From nowhere, we're all square!
85’ GOAL! Netherlands 3-2 Ukraine (Dumfries): The Dutch are ahead again! Dumfries doesn't fluff his lines this time. After the Ukraine give the ball away cheaply, Ake crosses to the back post and Dumfries rises above Zinchenko to power a downward header past Bushchan!
This is the first time in the history of the European Championship that five goals have been scored in the second half after a game finished goalless at half time.