Tuesday, July 23, 2024
HomeSportsRomania beats war-torn Ukraine 3-0 at Euro 2024

Romania beats war-torn Ukraine 3-0 at Euro 2024

MUNICH — Romania recorded only its second ever victory at the European Championship — and its first in 24 years — with a 3-0 win over Ukraine on Monday to give coach Edward Iordănescu a late birthday present.

Nicolae Stanciu put Romania ahead with a long-range strike in the first half before two quickfire goals from Răzvan Marin and Denis Mihai Drăgus early in the second half.

It was Romania’s first win at a major tournament since a surprise 3-2 triumph over England at Euro 2000 and the players danced joyously in front of their yellow-clad fans after the final whistle.

Iordănescu, who was the first coach to lead a Romania team at a European Championship since his father Anghel in 2016, turned 46 years old on Sunday.

Stanciu also hit the bar as Romania thoroughly beat Ukraine, which is playing at Euro 2024 amid the backdrop of war at home and hoping to give its citizens some joy even as Russian missiles keep raining down on the country.

The Ukraninian soccer federation unveiled an installation in Munich of a stadium stand destroyed by Russian troops in May 2022 to highlight the ongoing conflict ahead of the match.

“One team on the field but a million soldiers who stay and defend Ukraine,” ,” said former Ukraine coach and striker Andriy Shevchenko, who is the president of the country’s soccer federation. “We are all together. We play today for the country. We play today for the people who defend our lives and our country.”

It was an emotional match for both sets of players. It was Romania’s first appearance in a major tournament for eight years and several of the players were in tears as the national anthem rang out.

The Romanian fans sang along loudly, with the stadium transformed into a sea of yellow — the main colour for both teams.

And the Romanian side of that wall of color was sent into a bouncing mass of joy in the 29th minute when Stanciu gave his side a surprise lead.

Ukraine had been in control of the match and there appeared to be little danger when it was passing around the ball deep inside its half but, under pressure, Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Lunin kicked the ball straight at Dennis Man, who teed up Stanciu for a fierce strike into the top left corner.

Man almost got on the scoresheet himself 10 minutes later but his shot was deflected just past the left post. Stanciu’s inswinging corner came off the crossbar.

Romania doubled its lead eight minutes into the second half when, following a swift counter, the ball broke kindly to Marin and he drove it into the bottom left corner from just outside the area. Lunin, the Real Madrid goalkeeper who filled in for the injured Thibaut Courtois for much of the season, was again partially at fault for the second goal as he let the ball slip underneath his arms.

Ukraine had achieved comeback victories in both its playoff matches to reach Euro 2024 but its hopes of doing so again ended in the 57th minute when Man mazed his way into the area before rolling it across to Drăguș for a simple tap in.


AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024

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