Romania Sinks Error-Prone Ukraine to End Long Drought with Victory at Euro 2024

Romania secured their first victory at a major international tournament in 24 years, defeating Ukraine 3-0 at Euro 2024.

Critical errors from Ukrainian goalkeeper Andriy Lunin paved the way for Romania’s triumph in their Group E opener on Monday.

Romania Sinks Error-Prone Ukraine to End Long Drought with Victory at Euro 2024
In celebration of their second goal, Razvan Marin. @Sky Sports

Romania defeated Ukraine 3-0 at Euro 2024, their first major international tournament victory in 24 years, thanks in part to two mistakes made by goalie Andriy Lunin. Romania, encouraged by a large section of the Munich audience, took the lead in the first half of their Group E match thanks to a spectacular long-range strike from Captain Nicolae Stanciu.

Then, just before the hour, Denis Dragus tapped in the third goal as Romania turned the screw with two more goals, one a long-range effort from Razvan Marin that went under Lunin. Ukraine’s campaign got off to a terrible start, and they now need to get back together before playing Slovakia and Belgium.

The first major tournament match for Ukraine after the Russian invasion in February 2022 saw players enter the field with Ukrainian flags slung over their shoulders.

Despite the backdrop of the biggest European conflict since World War II, they managed to qualify for the fourth consecutive European Championship, even though they were not allowed to play in the World Cup two years earlier.

Under Andriy Shevchenko, Ukraine advanced to the quarterfinals three years prior. But since then, a lot has changed in the war-torn nation, with his erstwhile strike partner Serhiy Rebrov taking the helm.

In Germany, where over a million Ukrainians have sought safety, Rebrov said that just participating is a significant step for the country.

It was his team’s responsibility to “show the spirit” of Ukraine during these trying times, he said, citing the numerous letters he had received from individuals back home, including those fighting on the front lines.

Romania had not won in four games this year going into their comeback to the main stage after losing out on Euro 2020, but they had gone undefeated through the qualifying stages. Their lone and last victory in the competition occurred when they advanced to the quarterfinals of Euro 2000.

Early on a sweltering afternoon at the Allianz Arena, Ukraine probed without success and suffered the price for putting themselves under pressure, which caused Lunin to provide an incorrect clearing.

The Real Madrid goalkeeper passed the ball directly to Dennis Man, who crossed the field and fired a spectacular 20-yard effort into the upper corner.

Oleksandr Zinchenko comforted Lunin right away, but Stanciu almost beat him again a few minutes later, this time coming from a corner. Stanciu’s inswinging corner flicked against the bar, and the backpedaling Ukrainian goalkeeper flailed at nothing as a deflected Man attempt fizzed just wide.

Worse was to come for Lunin, as eight minutes into the second half, Marin struck a clean low effort from 25 yards that seemed to fool him for pace following a quick Romanian counterattack. Shortly after, after a neatly played short corner, Man knocked the ball across the six-yard box, and Dragus essentially finished up the victory.

It was a day to forget for Ukraine, with Romanian goalkeeper Florin Nita making a great stop from Georgiy Sudakov late on and substitute Roman Yaremchuk’s lob grazing the bar on its way past.

Also Read: Ivan Schranz Leads Slovakia to Shocking Victory Over Belgium at Euro 2024

Romania is partying like it’s 2000

At the final whistle, Romanians were filled with passion and the realization of what they had accomplished: their first European Championship title in 24 years, which brought tears to their eyes.

Their 29% possession percentage versus Ukraine was the lowest for a victorious team in this competition’s history (going back to 1980). With two magnificent long-range goals in either half—one from midfielder Razvan Marin and the other from captain Stanciu—this was accomplished in fine fashion.

Their tenacious defense kept Ukraine from getting a real look at goal, enabling them to win their nation’s second European Championship game out of 17 games. Florin Nita kept his clean sheet intact with a great late save against Georgiy Sudakov.

The win was a good birthday present for Iordanescu, whose father Anghel led Romania to the 1994 World Cup quarterfinals and had three spells in charge of the team. It also suggested that his team’s undefeated qualification record might not be an anomaly. Momentum and belief are building.

Romania Sinks Error-Prone Ukraine to End Long Drought with Victory at Euro 2024
Only their second victory at the UEFA European Championship (D5 L10), this was Romania's greatest triumph at a major international competition (World Cup/EURO). @Sky Sports
Head of Ukraine, Serhiy Rebrov, said to BBC One:

“We will discuss what happened and analyze the game, but this is not the last game we will analyze. Unfortunately, we lost today. We lost today because we were defeated in certain parts of the game.

“I believe every player is aware of the strain. We had a good understanding of this going into the game. We shall examine the mistakes we made. Since we are elite competitors, we must give it our all.We have three games left, and after this one, which is much more important than this one, we have to recuperate and get ready.”

Boss of Romania, Edward Iordanescu, stated:

“I want to express my gratitude to all Romanians worldwide. They were here with us today, I know that. My crew made an amazing effort. I think you can now trust me when I say that this is an excellent squad, if you were unsure. Best wishes to the boys. It truly is amazing.

“I’ve experienced challenging times since I joined the national squad. It hasn’t always been simple. We’ve had other noteworthy shows. Although previous generations have produced impressive achievements, this generation embodies the spirit. This team has worked extremely hard at everything. Nobody has ever had as huge a heart as our team. There are no limits to this generation.”

It’s really hard to describe these feelings in words. My family has shared every second of our lives. I must thank them for accompanying us, as I had to send four cars to fetch them up. I value my family above all else. My family and I would most likely still be here today even if I weren’t the coach.”

Nicolae Stanciu, Romanian captain, stated:

We won’t be celebrating this victory, I know myself and my teammates well enough. For the time being, we will focus exclusively on Belgium.

“[The support] was exceptional; we had never experienced anything like it. Tears filled the eyes of my wife, father, and siblings. I hope we’ve made them all extremely happy today and I would like to thank them all. We owe them all a debt of gratitude, and I hope they will rejoice. We accomplished something very amazing today.

“That was my career’s objective. For me, this shirt is everything. It’s simply amazing to score in the EURO finals and to triumph in the way we did.”

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