Netherlands, Austria start Euro campaign with wins

Afp, Amsterdam

15 June, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Netherlands, Austria start Euro campaign with wins

Denzel Dumfries scored a dramatic late winner as the Netherlands marked their long-awaited return to a major tournament with a 3-2 victory over Ukraine in a remarkable Euro 2020 game in Amsterdam on Sunday.

Dumfries, the PSV Eindhoven full-back, headed in a cross from substitute Nathan Ake to complete a madcap second half after the home side eased into a two-goal lead and then threw it away.

Captain Georginio Wijnaldum and Wout Weghorst both scored before the hour mark in front a raucous crowd at the Johan Cruyff Arena, only for Ukraine to silence the home supporters as Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk netted to briefly restore parity.

Frank de Boer's side got there in the end and the victory will provide a major lift to the Netherlands after what was their first game at a major competition in seven years.

They will now hope to build on it on Thursday against Austria, who beat North Macedonia earlier in Bucharest in the same Group C.

It was a brilliant game, and a crowd of around 16,000 created an atmosphere fit for the occasion at the home of Ajax, where supporters held up banners with messages of support for Christian Eriksen following the Denmark star's cardiac arrest on Saturday.

Eriksen made his name at Ajax before moving to Tottenham Hotspur in 2013.

After failing to qualify for Euro 2016 or the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the Netherlands were playing their first game at a major competition since beating hosts Brazil 3-0 to claim third place at the 2014 World Cup.

They had not won a game at a Euro in almost exactly 13 years, since Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Robin van Persie netted in a 2-0 win over Romania at Euro 2008.

The emergence of the likes of Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt has given supporters of the Oranje new hope for the future.

Those supporters were in fine spirits ahead of the game, bedecked in orange as they filled the bars around the ground in the blazing sunshine, thoughts of the pandemic appearing far away.

In the other Group C match, substitutes Michael Gregoritsch and Marko Arnautovic scored late goals as Austria sealed a 3-1 victory over major tournament debutants North Macedonia in their opening match at Euro 2020 on Sunday.

Macedonian skipper Goran Pandev became the second-oldest scorer in championship history by equalising after Stefan Lainer's opener in the first half.

But Gregoritsch and Arnautovic ended their opponents' spirited resistance in Bucharest ahead of the day's other Group C game between the Netherlands and Austria in Amsterdam.


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