The best match of the Euro 2020 competition so far was played out at the Johan Crujff ArenA in Amsterdam on Sunday with the Netherlands defeating Ukraine 3-2 after a thrilling game.
The Netherlands dominated possession from the kick off and Memphis Depay, Denzel Dumfries and Gini Wijnaldum all had chances in the opening 10 minutes but through a combination of poor shooting and excellent goalkeeping it was still scoreless after the opening exchanges.
Ukraine keeper Heorhiy Bushchan made a great save from Dumfries’s effort in the 5th minute, having earlier smothered Depay’s shot but Wijnaldum blasted over their best chance without even testing the ‘keeper a couple of minutes later.
The Dutch were attacking in waves at this stage, but Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko, who plays his club football at left back, was highly effective playing as a sweeper in front of the Ukraine back four, and time and again he thwarted the Netherlands attacks through great positioning as well as great tackling.
Bushchan continued to be the star performer as the first half wore on, he continued to be rock solid in goals, making one particularly spectacular one handed save from a Wijnaldum shot in the 38th minute.
Frank De Boer’s side continued to drive forward in search of a goal before half-time but they were unable to breach the solid Ukraine defence and it was 0-0 at the break.
The dominance that the Netherlands enjoyed finally paid off in the 55th minute and it was some of the same first half star performers who eventually combined to give them the lead.
Dumfries, who was excellent through on the right wing, played a ball across the box, Bushchan, perhaps needlessly, came off his line and only succeeded in diverting the ball into the path of Wijnaldum who blasted home from the edge of the box. This was no more than he and his team mates deserved given their work rate up to that point.
A mere six minutes later they had a second, Dumfries was again the creator, he worked the ball along the end line and when it broke to centre forward Woot Weghorst he put it past Bushchan with the aid of a slight deflection off Dumfries. There was a hint of offside on the part of Dumfries but VAR confirmed otherwise and the goal stood, the Dutch were 2-0 ahead.
The Netherlands took their foot off the pedal a little after that and they almost paid a very heavy price for doing so.
Ukraine skipper Andriy Yarmolenko strode forward from the right-wing position in the 74th minute, he switched the ball onto his left foot and unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top right-hand corner of the goals, certainly a contender for goal of the tournament.
The Dutch were rattled because in truth it came against the run of play but it was to get worse for de Boer’s team as four minutes later the teams were level, Ukraine’s lone striker Roman Yaremchuk powered a header into the net from a free kick outside the box.
There was a raft of substitutions made by De Boer in the closing stages and one of those, Nathan Ake, another Man City player, set up the third and winning goal for the Dutch.
Bushchan, who had been excellent throughout, made a weak clearance to his right- hand side, Ake picked up the loose ball and crossed it into the far post where Dumfries capped a great personal performance with a downward header which Bushchan was unable to prevent from crossing the line.
Netherlands certainly deserved their victory, they were on the front foot for the majority of the match and they also responded very well when they conceded the two goals in the final 15 minutes, piling forwards in numbers again to create the opening for the decisive winning goal.
Netherlands: Maarten Stekenburg, Patrick Van Aanholt (Owen Wijndal, 63), Jurrien Timber (Joel Veltman, 87), Denzel Dumfries, Daley Blind (Nathan Ake, 63), Georginio Wijnaldum, Stefan de Vrij, Marten de Roon, Frankie de Jong, Woot Weghorst (Look de Jong, 87) Memphis Depay (Donyell Malen, 89).
Subs not used: Tim Krul (gk), Marco Bizot (gk), Teun Koopmeiners, Davy Klaassen, Ryan Gravenberch, Cody Gakpo, Steven Berghuis.
Ukraine: Heorhiy Buschan, Illia Zabarnyi, Vitally Mykolenko, Mykola Matviyenko, Oleksandr Karavaev, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Serhiy Sydorchuk, Ruslan Malinovskyi, Olelsandr Zubkov ( Marlos Bonfin, 13- Mykola Shaparenko , 74), Andriy Yarmolenko (c), Roman Yaremchuk.
Subs not used: Anantolii Trubin (gk), Andriy Pyatov (gk), Olesandr Tymchyk, Taras Stepanenko, Eduard Sobol, Denys Popov, Yahven Makarenko, Serhiy Kryvtsov, Artem Dovbyk, Artem Besedin.
Booked: Serhiy Sydorchuk (90)
Referee: F Brych (Germany)
extratime.com Player of the Match: Denzel Dumfries (Netherlands)