Euro 2020: Oranje tops Ukraine 3-2 on 85th minute stunner from Dumfries
A late winner from Denzel Dumfries was what the Dutch men’s national football team needed to top Ukraine 3-2 in a tense Euro 2020 group stage football match at the Johan Cruijff Arena on Sunday night. Dumfries played a key role in all three of the Dutch goals, and secured the narrow victory after Oranje rapidly gave away a two goal lead.
It was the first time in Euro history that five goals were scored in the second half of a match that was 0-0 at half time. Noted football commentator Henry Winter called it, “the best match of the nascent Euro 2020.”
Some 15,837 fans, including King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima, attended Oranje’s first international group stage match in a major tournament since the World Cup in 2014. The Netherlands was unable to capitalize on several excellent chances in the first half, with Ukrainian goalkeeper Georgiy Bushchan looking calm and in control throughout. The tense back and forth play, with Ukraine often having difficulty clearing the ball from their defensive end, nevertheless went into halftime with a level 0-0 score.
That all changed with an exciting second half with five goals scored between the two sides. The scoring started in the 53rd minute with a fast moving Oranje play down the right side sparked with a pass from Jurrien Timber to Denzel Dumfries. Dumfries brought the ball towards the corner and knocked a sharp long cross on the ground, which was broken up by Bushchan, who pushed the ball off his hand towards the top center of the box. Georginio Wijnaldum was in the right place at the right time, and knocked the ball home to make the score 1-0.
A strange turn of events in the 58th minute brought the match to 2-0. A midfield pass from Frenkie de Jong connected with Denzel Dumfries on the right side of the box. As he advanced in, the ball was clumsily stripped by Ukraine defenders Vitaliy Mykolenko and Mykola Matviyenko. When the latter tried to clear the ball, it landed at the feet of Wout Weghorst. He struck the ball which deflected off Bushchan and in, but Dumfries was standing level with the goalkeeper and Illia Zabarnyi. A review by the VAR determined Dumfries was onside, and the goal was upheld.
A spectacular left-footed strike from West Ham forward Andriy Yarmolenko put the Ukrainians back into the match in the 75th minute. Yarmolenko laid the ball off on the right side to striker Roman Yaremchuk, who quickly passed the ball back to his teammate. His strike curled past Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg and tucked into the corner. The goal certainly energized the players and the smattering of Ukraine fans in the Amsterdam stadium.
Moments later, a free kick from Ruslan Malinovsky connected off the head of Yaremchuk just ahead of the penalty spot. He put the ball hard into the right side of the net, leaving Stekelenburg standing, hoping to get an offsides call. That put the match at 2-2.
Oranje did not lose hope, and in the 85th minute substitute player Owen Wijndal got the ball near the left offensive corner to substitute Nathan Aké. His long cross in the air from found its way to Dumfries. He headed the ball off the ground, which deflected against Bushchan and into the net, to make it 3-2.
The Dutch side managed to maintain possession for 63 percent of the match, winning five corners. They had 15 attempts in total including seven on target. Ukraine had eight chances, with five on target. Both sides committed eight fouls, mostly in the second half.
The other two teams in Group C, Austria and North Macedonia, squared off in Budapest earlier in the evening. Austria emerged victorious 3-2.
Oranje will battle against Austria in Amsterdam on Thursday at 9 p.m. They will then face North Macedonia in Amsterdam at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 21.
At 38, Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg is the oldest player on the men’s team. Just 101 days shy of his 39th birthday, he broke a record set by Edwin van der Sar at the 2008 Euro, who at the time was the oldest Dutch player to take part in a the final tournament of a European Championship.
Georginio Wijnaldum, 30, is the most experienced member of the Oranje roster when it comes to international play. The Liverpool midfielder has now appeared in 76 matches for Oranje.