Romania Breaks 24-Year Drought After Beating Ukraine in the Euro Cup

Romania vs Ukraine in Euro Cup 2024
Romania vs Ukraine (Credit: Getty Images)

Sergei Rebrov, Ukraine’s coach, wanted to beat Romania so the world would know they were still there. “I know many people in Europe are tired, but we still need your support.” But the will was not enough. In their debut in the Euro Cup, they fell against a very practical rival, who let themselves be loved at first and then took advantage of the Real Madrid goalkeeper. Andriy Lunin did not have his afternoon, perhaps overcome by the emotionality of the moment, of that hymn sung at the top of his voice, chanted by thousands of voices, the footballers wrapped in the blue and yellow flag of their country harassed by war.

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Lunin was a victim of himself, and of the voracity of Man, the man of the match, attentive to the goalkeeper’s error in the first goal, when he wanted to play with his foot, who knows where, and gave it to the Parma midfielder, who put it in front of Stanciu, who nailed it into the top corner from outside the area. Perhaps Lunin was bothered by that mistake in the past, which sometimes came out heads and this time came out tails when ten minutes later, Stanciu once again tested him on a corner kick. The Romanian saw that, before hitting, the goalkeeper took a step forward, so he closed the cross, which did not become an Olympic goal by centimeters.

Ukraine had come out bossy, to say that they were there, and approached the Romanian area several times in the first minutes of the game. Of course, their important men, like Zinchenko or Sudakov, were nowhere to be found. The only one who seemed to have clear ideas was Mudryk. So the Ukrainian domain was like cotton candy, sticky but quickly dissolving. Romania played comfortably, without rushing, until they began to press high, and in one of those came Lunin’s error, the inattention of their center backs, the appearance of Man, the man of the day, and Stanciu’s goal.

And nothing more was heard about Ukraine in the first part, nor in the second. They played as visitors in Munich, that role that the war has forced them to take on in so many disciplines, but what in a Euro match is only a convention, became a burden for them, because they acted like someone defending themselves from an adverse fate in an inhospitable setting. And through all that, Romania played comfortably, letting the Ukrainians take the initiative, until in the 52nd minute, a robbery in their own half turned into a counterattack by Man, that man, who ended up with the ball at Razvan’s feet. Marin threw a shoe from very far away that slipped under Lunin’s arms.

It was the second goal and a total blow for the Ukrainian team, which did not recover despite the changes that Rebrov ordered. Even less so when, after a corner, Man once again picked up the ball on the right, slipped into the area between the weak Romanian defense, and threw parallel for Dragus to put his boot and deflect into the net.

Subsequent attempts to reduce the score by Ukraine turned out to be futile because Romania defended with order and their goalkeeper Nitá was attentive when required, which was not too much. Ukraine’s chances came in the final minutes when it was too late to rectify. The Romanians achieve their first victory in a European Championship since 2000.

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