By Javier Albisu
Brussels, Jun 13 (EFE).- The Netherlands and Ukraine went head to head in their Group C Eurocup match on Sunday in a heartstopping contest for all concerned, in particular the home crowdin the stands.
The match was scoreless at the break but it was a goalfest in the second period with five tallies, the home team getting out in front by two before the Ukrainians answered back and drew level only to have Denzel Dumfries score the game-winner for the Dutch in the 85th minute.
The match was played at Amsterdam’s Johan Cruyff Arena before some 16,000 nearly delirious hometown fans.
Although Holland clearly dominated the match right from the start, it found itself battling to fend off the draw late in the day and with the win Frank de Boer’s squad is second in Group C after Austria, which downed North Macedonia 3-1 earlier on Sunday, while Ukraine sits in third place.
The match started off at a frenetic pace, with drives into both areas and forward Memphis Depay standing out for the Dutch along with Ukrainian netminder Georgiy Bushchan with three key stops.
As the match wore on, Ukraine seemed to settle down a bit and feel more comfortable, although the Dutch held a significant lead in possession time – some 60 percent – in the first half.
Nevertheless, everyone had to wait until the 52nd minute for the first tally, when Dumfries fired a low cross from the right and Buchchan made a dive to deflect it but only knocked it to Georginio Wijnaldum, who sank it from about 15 yards, putting the home team on the board.
Holland waited just six minutes to make it 2-0 on a shot by Wout Weghorst.
It seemed that Ukraine had the wind completely taken out of their sails, but then veteran Andriy Yarmolenko came out of nowhere, teaming up with Yeremchuk to cut inside and send a great curving shot right into the net’s top corner from 20 yards.
Just minutes later, Yaremchuk headed in Ruslan Malinovskiy’s free kick to bring the so far mostly lackluster Ukrainians level at 2-2.
But the Dutch were not yet done, with Dumfries heading in the final tally just five minutes before the whistle for the win.
Next in Group C action, Holland will welcome Austria in Amsterdam on Thursday and Ukraine and North Macedonia will face off that same day in Bucharest.
Netherlands: Maarten Stekelenburg; Patrick van Aanholt (Owen Wijndal, m.64), Daley Blind (Nathan AkE), Stefan de Vrij, Jurrien Timber (Joel Veltman, m.88), Denzel Dumfries; Frenkie de Jong, Georginio Wijnaldum, Marteen de Roon; Wout Weghorst (Luuk de Jong, m.88) and Memphis Depay (Donyell Malen, m.91).
Coach: Frank de Boer
Ukraine: Georgiy Bushchan; Vitaliy Mykolenko, Matviyenko Matviyenko, Zabarnyi, Ilya Karavaev; Olexandr Zinchenko, Serhiy Sydorchuk, Ruslan Malinovskyi, Oleksandr Zubkov (Marlos, m.13; Mykola Chaparenko, m.64), Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk.
Coach: Andrei Shevchenko
Referee: Felix Brych of Germany showed a yellow card to Ukraine’s Serhiy Sydorchuk (m.93).