Romania upset Ukraine with its first EURO win in 24 years

Romania delivered a high-octane performance to win their first European Championship match in 24 years, securing a dominant 3-0 victory over Ukraine in their Euro 2024 Group E opening encounter on Monday. Before the match, Romania coach Edward Iordanescu promised his players would fight for every meter on the pitch, and they delivered the same, leaping into tackles and racing all over to defend in waves while their loud fans cheered them on.

Stunning long-range finishes in either half, one by captain and man-of-the-match Nicolae Stanciu and the other by midfielder Razvan Marin, stunned Serhiy Rebrov’s Ukraine, which had dominated the first 20 minutes of the game. Stanciu’s cannon shot into the upper right corner gave Ukraine custodian Andriy Lunin no chance. The Real Madrid custodian could have done better with the second, which slipped beneath him as he dived.

Stanciu described his shot as the goal of his career, and he said the fan enthusiasm was unlike anything he had ever seen before. Rebrov’s team paid a high price for failing to convert their early possession into any meaningful chances, as Romania absorbed the pressure and struck first after dispossessing Ukraine deep in their own half.

Dennis Man, the first Romanian player to provide multiple assists in a single match at a major event since Gheorghe Hagi against Colombia in the 1994 World Cup, set up the first goal by intercepting Lunin’s weak clearing and sweeping the ball to Stanciu. The outcome was all but certain shortly before the hour mark when Man drove into the box from a corner and crossed the ball for Denis Dragus to tap in.

Romania’s tight-knit defense denied Ukraine a serious chance at goal, securing the country’s second win in 17 European Championship matches, the first coming against England 3-2 at Euro 2000. Following the final whistle, Romania’s players hugged one other and remained on the pitch to celebrate with their applauding fans. The contest was abruptly disrupted by two distinct pitch intruders, who were promptly led away by stewards.

We’ve had golden generations with big performances but this generation represents the soul. This team has put the biggest effort into everything. As big a heart as this team, nobody has ever had. This generation is limitless, Iordanescu said after his men registered a memorable win.

Meanwhile, Ivan Schranz scored Slovakia’s quickest goal in a major competition, leading his team to a scrappy 1-0 upset victory over sloppy Belgium in a European Championship Group E encounter on Monday.