Sunday June 13th 2021
Wild catch-up still parried
Orange shatters Ukraine’s thirst for sensation
The Netherlands are the clear favorites in the European Championship game against Ukraine. With the support of the home crowd in Amsterdam, Oranje is leading fast. But then a dream goal by Andrei Jarmolenko opens the race for the Eastern Europeans to catch up. You sense the sensation – and yet you are bitterly disappointed.
Wolfsburg’s striker Wout Weghorst has made a perfect start to the European Football Championship with the Netherlands. The 28-year-old scored the first European Championship goal of his career in a 3-2 (1-0) win against Ukraine on Sunday evening in Amsterdam and celebrated a successful return to the big football stage with the Oranje team after 2528 days. In an exciting game in front of 16,000 spectators, Weghorst scored 2-0 in the 59th minute after Georginio Wijnaldum (52nd) had put Elftal in the lead. Andrej Jarmolenko (75th) and Roman Jaremtschuk (79th) equalized again for Ukraine, but Denzel Dumfries (85th) let the Dutch cheer in the end.
“I’m the proud captain. We played a good game,” said Wijnaldum: “We allowed two chances, that was two goals conceded. But that didn’t panic. I’m relieved that we have the first European Championship. Won the game. ” And Weghorst said: “When I score, of course I’m very satisfied.”
The hosts, who are back at a major tournament for the first time since the 2014 World Cup and who had been poorly prepared for the European Championship, got off to a furious start in the game, which was flawlessly led by the German referee Felix Brych. Already in the 2nd minute, Memphis Depay started a solo, but failed at the end because of the Ukrainian goalkeeper Georgi Buschtschan. The 27-year-old from Dynamo Kiev became the best man of the Eastern Europeans and a little later defused the next big chance for the Dutch with a foot parade through Dumfries.
The Elftal of bond coach Frank de Boer, who has to do without the injured star defender Virgil van Dijk from Liverpool FC throughout the tournament, played refreshingly forward. Wijnaldum carefully directed midfield and also created danger in front of goal. At first the Oranje captain aimed a little too high, later he failed with a deflected shot at the strongly reacting Buschtschan.
The Ukrainian goalkeeper had previously saved against Weghorst. The striker from Bundesliga club VfL Wolfsburg, who was not included in the World Cup qualification in March, was preferred to Luuk de Jong as Depay’s strike partner.
The Ukrainians, who surprisingly left defending champions Portugal behind them in qualifying for the tournament, held against it with great willingness to run and fight. The team headed by coach Andrei Shevchenko, who scored the only two European Championship goals for his country to date in 2012, barely had any chances.
Dutch passivity punished
Except for a harmless shot by ex-Dortmunders Andrej Jarmolenko (30th), Oranje keeper Maarten Stekelenburg – at 38 years and 264 days the oldest professional who has ever played for the Netherlands at an EM or World Cup – was unemployed in the first half . His front men had the game firmly under control, but initially did not reward themselves. Five minutes before the break, Dumfries missed the greatest chance to take the lead when he headed the ball past the goal from five meters completely free.
Wijnaldum showed how to do it shortly after the restart. With a sharp cross from the right, Buschtschan cleared in dire need in front of the onrushing Depay, the rebound sunk the midfield director, who will play for Paris Saint-Germain in the future, ice cold. Rafael van der Vaart scored the last Oranje goal at an EM in 2012 against Portugal.
Now the last fetters were released. Just six minutes after the overdue lead, Weghorst followed up. After another uncertainty in the Ukrainian defense, the 28-year-old hit with a low shot.
In anticipation of a certain victory, the momentum for the Dutch flagged – and suddenly the game tipped over. Jarmolenko scored with a wonderful shot that gave the Ukrainians a boost. Four minutes later, Yaremchuk headed the passivity of the home side, who hit back again and celebrated a happy ending.