Euro 2024 Daily: Ukraine show heart, Dutch denied winner against France

Published on: 22 June 2024

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The lead: Ukraine respond to pressure to keep Euro hopes alive

DÜSSELDORF, Germany -- Ukraine played this match under incredible pressure. From a footballing perspective, defeat against Slovakia would have made advancing to the knockout stages a tough prospect. Then there was the pressure of public expectation, as the war with Russia continues back home. The bulk of the support in the stadium was with Ukraine; there are 1.1 million Ukrainian refugees in Germany, and roughly 10,000 live in Dusseldorf.

In a prematch fan march, a vast Ukraine flag was unveiled as the supporters chanted "Danke, Deutschland." (Thank you, Germany.) The reminders inside the grounds were there: soldiers were commemorated on flags, although one flag that read "Give us elections back" vanished soon after kickoff.

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Having floundered in a 3-0 loss against Romania in the previous game, the pressure mounted on Ukraine early as they went a goal down when Ivan Schranz scored after Oleksandr Zinchenko missed a cross. But, after flitting between trying to play intricate football at 100mph and going route one, coach Sergiy Rebrov illustrated the benefit of well-judged replacements to turn the game around in the second half and keep Ukraine's hopes of reaching Euro 2024's knockout phase alive.

Indeed, it wasn't until he made substitutions in the second half that Ukraine really hit their stride. After that they played quicker, passes landed, and they fashioned a brilliant equaliser in the 54th minute as Zinchenko's lay-off allowed Mykola Shaparenko to slot home. Then came Roman Yaremchuk's winner in the 80th minute -- a goal that deserved to win any game.

Shaparenko's long ball over the top saw Yaremchuk control it with his big toe -- an incredible display of skill in such a big match, reminiscent of Dennis Bergkamp's wonder goal for Netherlands vs. Argentina in 1998 -- and the tall striker clipped it past the advancing Martin Dúbravka. For a split second, the crowd held its breath as the ball crept over the line to sheer relief from those in yellow-and-blue as Milan Skriniar tried in vain to keep the ball out. Rebrov danced along the touchline, and Ukraine's campaign was back on track. For a brief moment of sheer escapism, all was well.

At full-time, Yaremchuk fell to the ground. His teammates picked him up, and they went over to their fans. As one, they shouted "Ukraine" into the midafternoon sky. This was a victory built on tactical acumen and a deft finish, but it was also about heart. Up next is Belgium, and Ukraine's say in Euro 2024 isn't over yet. -- Tom Hamilton

Roman Yaremchuk of Ukraine, No. 9, celebrates his special goal that won the match. Michael Regan - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

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Sights and sounds around Euro 2024Can Koeman's new system work against Austria?

LEIPZIG, Germany -- Ronald Koeman decided to be bold and innovative in the Netherlands' 0-0 draw against France on Friday with a brave 4-2-4 formation, taking off a defensive midfielder in Joey Veerman to replace him in the starting lineup with an attack-minded player in Jeremie Frimpong. The Netherlands head coach responded to a move in the opposite direction from Didier Deschamps making his team more defensive with Aurélien Tchouaméni replacing Kylian Mbappé.

Despite getting only a draw, Koeman's tactical choices still paid off. Xavi Simons moved from the right wing, where he was inefficient against Poland, to a second striker role alongside Memphis Depay, where he created problems for the French defence at times, running in space with the ball. He scored a goal disallowed harshly for an offside position off the ball of Cody Gakpo. Frimpong on the right was a threat from the start of the game, where his pace took the French by surprise.

The Netherlands were denied a winner due to offside and had to settle for a 0-0 draw against France. (Photo by Carl Recine/Getty Images)

Even with Gakpo on the left and Depay centrally, the Dutch also had some good moments in the first half but didn't offer enough after the break. The new formation left the Oranje a bit exposed at times, due mostly to the lack of experience of the two midfielders, Tijjani Reijnders and Jerdy Schouten. With four points after two matches and just one more than their next opponent, Austria, the Dutch will play a final next week to finish first or second in Group D.

To face the Austrian pressing machine, the 4-2-4 formation could be a very good choice as it offers width as well as players in between the line. The tension will be high in Berlin on Tuesday and Virgil van Dijk and his teammates will have to respond to it with a performance of champions. They at least showed on Friday that they might have found a way to play in it. -- Julien Laurens

Lewy returns ... but Arnautovic steals the limelight

Poland's star player Robert Lewandowski returned off the bench, after missing the first game of Euro 2024 through injury, but it was another towering striker who stole the show in Berlin. Marko Arnautovic, the man with a career path that Football Manager dreams are made of, was vital to Austria sealing a comfortable 3-1 win that gives them a great chance of qualifying for the knockout stages.

Arnautovic's club career has taken him to such teams as Inter Milan, Stoke, Werder Bremen, Shanghai SPG, West Ham ... and most recently back to Inter again. The 35-year-old is something of a unicorn in footballing terms: a 6-foot-4 maverick, capable of supreme technical quality but also moments of madness. This game summed him up well.

A well-worked move for Christoph Baumgartner's goal to make it 2-1 had some shine thanks to Arnautovic's brilliant dummy which allowed the RB Leipzig forward the space he needed. Then, minutes later, he pushed a Poland player in the face and received a yellow card. Unsurprising, perhaps, given this is a man dubbed '"the bad boy of Austrian football" in his home nation.

In this game, however, he was more good than bad. His sheer presence with the captain's armband lifted his side throughout and, to cap things off, he fired in a late penalty to secure the victory.

Austria, just like in their opening loss to France, were a bundle of energy and relentless with their pressing --no surprise given coach Ralf Rangnick is seen as one of the gegenpressing pioneers. Characters like Arnautovic are what the Euros are about and while Poland were missing an impact from their main star, Arnautovic showed why Austria can rely on him. -- David Cartlidge

Slovenia kids give team a lift

MUNICH -- Slovenia were seconds away from recording their first-ever Euros win at the Allianz Arena on Thursday, only for former Real Madrid striker Luka Jovic to come off the bench and head in a 95th-minute equaliser for Serbia. It was such a devastating blow that Slovenia's players could barely lift themselves off the floor for the restart and slumped back to the ground when the final whistle was blown immediately afterward.

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But it was a different scene a few minutes later, when the players returned to the pitch with their children. Most of the youngsters took the opportunity to do cartwheels on Bayern Munich's pitch before taking part in an enthusiastic game of tag. It meant that when Slovenia's players left the pitch for a second time, there were smiles and jokes rather than doom and gloom.

At the same time, head coach Matjaz Kek was in his postmatch news conference saying that he believed that football would serve up "karma" for Serbia's late goal in Slovenia's next game against England. So watch out, Gareth Southgate! -- Rob Dawson

'Don't drink and ride,' fans warnedE-scooters are a very popular mode of transport but have to be used safely. Mark Ogden

FRANKFURT, Germany -- One of the more unexpected problems in Germany during Euro 2024 has been the availability of e-scooters in the host cities and the appeal to some supporters to use them while drinking.

Prior to England's Group C clash with Denmark in Frankfurt on Thursday, the sight of several football fans whizzing around on the scooters, which can reach a top speed of 20 km/h, led to some near misses at junctions and pedestrian crossings. And there was also an incident in Cologne which saw two Scotland fans collide with trees after losing control of their scooters.

Costing just €1 to unlock and 20 cents for every 15 minutes of use, they are a cheap way to get around the city, but Frankfurt Police were forced to issue a warning to visiting supporters on Thursday after several England and Denmark fans were stopped and found to have been riding the scooters under the influence of alcohol.

In a post on X via their official account, Frankfurt Police said: "Today we have already checked several scooter users in Frankfurt who were under the influence of alcohol. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is punishable and dangerous!" -- Mark Ogden

Fans party in 'world's longest bar'

DÜSSELDORF, Germany -- "The world's longest bar" is drawing fans of all nations to Düsseldorf this month -- even if their countries are not actually playing in the city during Euro 2024. It is not actually one massive bar, as it's marketed by the tourism board, but a collection of 260 pubs, restaurants and bars all side-by-side within half a square kilometer in the Altstadt (Old Town).

The strip is constantly rammed. On Wednesday, Croatians and Albanians danced arm in arm on the cobbled streets before Germany fans poured out for their win over Hungary, while there was also a healthy contingent of Turkey, England and -- as with everywhere you travel in this tournament -- Scotland fans.

On Thursday, Spain and Italy fans arrived for a day of drinking and eating before heading to Gelsenkirchen for their Group B encounter. That's the other pull for Düsseldorf, which is hosting three group games: its location. Cologne, Dortmund and Gelsenkirchen are all easily accessible, so why not base yourself at the longest bar in the world? -- Sam Marsden

Stat of the day

In the 19th game of the tournament, Ivan Schranz scored against Ukraine to become only the second player to reach multiple goals at Euro 2024 after Germany's Jamal Musiala -- ESPN Stats & Information

Meanwhile, Ukraine's win against Slovakia was the fourth instance of a team coming from behind to win a match at Euro 2024, already the same number of comeback victories as in the whole of Euro 2020. -- Opta

Match previews for SaturdayGroup F: Georgia vs. Czechia (Hamburg; 3 p.m. local / 9 a.m. ET)

Odds (via ESPN BET): Georgia +380, Draw +270, Czechia -140

HAMBURG, Germany -- Georgia were beaten 3-1 by Turkey in their opening game in Group F, but coach Willy Sagnol insists they won't change the way they play. Losing 2-1 and pushing for an equaliser, he sent up his goalkeeper for a corner in stoppage time, only to see Turkey clear the ball and race the length of the pitch to score their third into an empty net. Asked afterward whether he regretted the decision, Sagnol said losing 2-1 or 3-1 was "the same" and that his only aim in Germany was to be as positive as possible.

Georgia, making their debut at a major tournament, won a lot of friends with their fearless performance in a 3-1 defeat against Turkey and they'll be looking to do the same when they play Czechia on Saturday. Star man Khvicha Kvaratskhelia was quiet by his standards, but if he can find his best form and Georgia can be more ruthless in front of goal, then Czechia will be in for an uncomfortable afternoon. -- Dawson

play1:41Moreno: Portugal have given more questions than answers

Ale Moreno reacts to Portugal's 2-1 win against Czechia in their opening game at Euro 2024.

Group F: Turkey vs. Portugal (Dortmund; 6 p.m. local / noon ET)

Odds: +425, Draw +333, Portugal -175

In a game that is likely to decide top spot in Group E if either side claim a victory, Roberto Martinez's Portugal face the additional challenge of overcoming huge support for Turkey in Dortmund.

Germany is home to over seven million people with Turkish heritage and Tuesday's 3-1 win against Georgia, also in Dortmund, was played out in front of a stadium dominated by Turkish supporters. "They were amazing in the Georgia match," defender Ferdi Kadioglu said. "Even in bad weather, they were at the stadium for us and were so loud. With them, we feel like we are playing with 12 men."

Portugal snatched a stoppage-time victory against Czechia in their opening game, with substitute Francisco Conceicao scoring within seconds of entering the pitch. In the space of 60 seconds, the FC Porto forward scored and earned a yellow card for his celebration. Liverpool forward Diogo Jota had a goal disallowed for Portugal prior to Conceicao's winner and claims he is ready to make up for an injury-hit season by delivering for his country in Germany. "Since I got back from injury, I've worked hard to get here," he said. "When I was last injured, I missed out on the World Cup and I wasn't far away from the same thing happening to me again. Fortunately, it didn't happen and I'm here ready to help." -- Ogden

Group E: Belgium vs. Romania (Cologne; 9 p.m. local / 3 p.m. ET)

Odds: Belgium -210, Draw +350, Romania +550

Belgium coach Domenico Tedesco was philosophical after his side's shock 1-0 defeat to Slovakia. After a 14-match unbeaten run, a defeat had to come at some point, but despite his brave face, it couldn't have come at a worse time. Belgium now need to get at least a point off Romania, who impressed in their 3-0 defeat of Ukraine, if they have hopes of a knockout spot.

EURO 2024 CHAMPIONSHIP ODDSTeamChampionshipFrance+350Germany+400England+450Spain+500Portugal+650Odds by ESPN BET  

Belgium dominated most of the match against Slovakia and Romelu Lukaku had two goals disallowed, but his teammates are sure he'll rediscover his goal-scoring touch. "I have a lot of confidence in Romelu, there is not one guy in this team I have more confidence in, mentally wise and quality wise," Jan Vertonghen said. "Romelu loves these moments, that the pressure is on him, the focus is on him." Belgium will be without Thomas Meunier for the match, but he will be available for their final Group E game against Ukraine.

Romania kept their celebrations in check after their win over Ukraine. They had a quiet dinner together and the following morning coach Edi Iordanescu turned attention to the challenge posed by Belgium, with experienced players such as Denis Drǎguş ensuring no complacency creeps in. There's a chance Valentin Mihăilă could come into the starting lineup, having missed the opener due to illness, as he was a frequent starter through qualifying and could get the nod ahead of Florinel Coman. -- Hamilton

Betting tip (odds via ESPN BET)

We saw victories for both Turkey and Portugal in the opening round of matches and you could take positives and negatives for both sides. Portugal are favorites against Turkey, but I really like a draw here at +333. -- Dan Thomas

One big readplay1:57Burley bashes Southgate for not using England's bench

Craig Burley questions why Gareth Southgate is leaving players like Cole Palmer and Kobbie Mainoo on the bench.

The Trent Alexander-Arnold midfield experiment at Euro 2024 has surely failed after he was slotted into a central position, rather than in his usual right-back role. England manager Gareth Southgate now has to ask himself whether he perseveres with a plan at least a year in the making --which has so far yielded next to no signs of encouragement -- or throws something else together in the middle of a tournament.

It is a troubling place to be. The Three Lions were lucky to escape Frankfurt with a 1-1 draw against Denmark on Thursday. Alarmingly for Southgate, they shortened the period in which they were good against Serbia and elongated the bad, spending more than two-thirds of this game looking badly disjointed and unable to exert any sort of meaningful control.

Alexander-Arnold is an undeniably talented and versatile footballer, and despite being deployed into a "hybrid" role for Liverpool where he moves centrally in attack, he's been unable to deliver for England as a midfielder who can split defences with his passing vision. He was not solely to blame for this -- a collective malaise engulfed England almost from the moment Harry Kane gave them an 18th-minute lead -- but Southgate's hope that Alexander-Arnold can provide a fresh dynamic to his midfield looks more misguided with every passing minute.

- James Olley: Southgate's midfield experiment fails as England labour

And finally ...Germany star Jamal Musiala paid tribute to an NBA legend. Getty

One of Euro 2024's best players so far, Germany wonderkid Jamal Musiala is also a big basketball fan. But at 21, you would think that his heroes would be current NBA stars Steph Curry, LeBron James, Luka Doncic, or Giannis Antetokounmpo and if he were to borrow a trademark celebration for one of his goals, it would be one of theirs. But you would be wrong.

After opening the scoring against Hungary in Germany's 2-0 win on Wednesday, the Bayern Munich playmaker put the three biggest fingers of his right hand by the side of his head, by his right eye, copying Carmelo Anthony's three-point celebration when he was at the New York Knicks.

Melo -- an NBA legend, 10-time All-Star and one of the greatest shooters in basketball history -- retired two years ago, so Musiala wanted to pay tribute to one of his favourite players. "My celebration comes from basketball ... from Carmelo," he told the media after the game. -- Julien Laurens

Source: espn.co.uk

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