A round-up of Sunday’s action at Euro 2020, as England start with a win, Austria beat North Macedonia, and Netherlands edge a thriller against Ukraine.
Netherlands 3-2 Ukraine
Holland made a dramatic return to major tournament football, snatching a late 3-2 victory over Ukraine having squandered a two-goal lead in their Euro 2020 opener.
The Netherlands had failed to qualify for the previous European Championships and the 2018 World Cup and began their return to the big stage looking like they were desperate to make up for lost time.
But having gone 2-0 up with less than an hour to go through Georginio Wijnaldum and Wout Weghorst they collapsed, conceding twice in four minutes to Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk.
However, they were rescued by PSV defender Denzel Dumfries who headed home his first international goal at the far post with five minutes remaining, having earlier wasted a great chance with the game goalless.
England 1-0 Croatia
Raheem Sterling’s first major tournament goal got England’s Euro 2020 campaign off to a winning start as Gareth Southgate’s side overcame World Cup semi-final foes Croatia.
Three years on from their heartbreaking extra-time loss at the Luzhniki, the Three Lions exacted some sort of revenge by triumphing in the Group D opener at a pulsating, partially filled Wembley.
Sterling could see the stadium from his house growing up and scored under the arch that is etched onto his arm, securing a 1-0 win against Croatia on a sweltering Sunday afternoon in the capital.
Phil Foden’s new bleach-blond look has been likened to Paul Gascoigne’s back then and the 21-year-old came close to producing a moment of magic the England great would have been proud of when hitting a post.
England shone during that encouraging opening 20 minutes, only for Croatia to settle and take the sting out of a sharp attack that continued to underwhelm early in second half.
The Three Lions had never previously won their opening game at a European Championship and, just as fans began to worry that run might continue, a moment of incision cut the visitors’ backline open.
The impressive Kalvin Phillips cut inside and smartly put through Sterling to smash home his first tournament goal as fans celebrated a Three Lions strike at Wembley for the first time since November 2019.
It proved the winner at the end of a week to remember for the 26-year-old, who was made an MBE for his work for services to racial equality in sport in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Austria 3-1 North Macedonia
Austria struck twice late on to ensure North Macedonia’s debut at a major tournament ended in a spirited 3-1 defeat in Romania.
Igor Angelovski’s side broke new ground by qualifying for Euro 2020 after a play-off win over Georgia last November.
And, having gone behind to Stefan Lainer’s impressive finish, North Macedonia equalised in the first half when 37-year-old striker Goran Pandev became the European Championship’s second oldest goalscorer.
But, like they did twice in qualifying, they came unstuck against the Austrians, who secured their maiden win at a Euros thanks to efforts from second-half substitutes Michael Gregoritsch and Marko Arnautovic.