The 2020 UEFA European Championship announced itself in style on Sunday with a five-goal thriller between the Netherlands and Ukraine which saw the Dutch emerge 3-2 winners in Group C.
Goalless at half-time after and Oranje onslaught during the first 45, Georginio Wijnaldum broke the deadlock seven minutes after the break when he pounced on a loose ball in the Ukrainian penalty area after goalkeeper George Buschan failed to hold it.
Wout Weghorst doubled the Netherlands’ advantage just before the hour mark and at that point, it looked as if the hosts would ease to victory as Ukraine looked dead and buried after being dominated by Frank de Boer’s men.
However, Andriy Yarmolenko dragged Andriy Shevchenko’s men back into it with an early goal of the tournament contender with 15 minutes to go after being teed up by Roman Yaremchuk who then levelled four minutes later with a diving header from a Ruslan Malinovsky delivery.
It took a stunned Dutch side just six minutes to react with Denzel Dumfries nodding past Buschan from a Nathan Ake ball in to spark pandemonium in the capital and the home side managed to see out the win from there.
De Boer will be delighted to have started with a victory, but it could have been so different after an inspired Ukrainian comeback was only just thwarted in arguably the most entertaining match of Euro 2020 so far.
Overall, Oranje did show their attacking prowess and potential to play aesthetically pleasing soccer with a first half that could have seen them in front and a more clinical second 45 with three different scorers.
Attacking star Memphis Depay has not yet displayed his prowess but Weghorst did get off the mark and captain Wijnaldum celebrated his Paris Saint-Germain move with the breakthrough goal after a bursting run from midfield.
The Dutch might have come close to throwing the win away, but it would be harsh on Yarmolenko to suggest that any goalkeeper in the world could have kept his howitzer of an effort out and Yaremchuk’s effort was still a fine header despite some static defending.
Ultimately, it did not matter as the Netherlands found their winner through Dumfries to continue their penchant for delivering some of the most entertaining games at international tournaments, but they will not be able to rely on that sort of late show all the time.
An explosive start, but there is work to be done ahead of the clash with an Austrian side which looks capable of testing De Boer’s men while Ukraine and North Macedonia will meet in what could be an equally intriguing clash after their opening performances.