Soccer-Romania stun Ukraine with first Euro win in 24 years


Soccer Football - Euro 2024 - Group E - Romania v Ukraine - Munich Football Arena, Munich, Germany - June 17, 2024 Romania players salute their fans after the match REUTERS/Angelika Warmuth

MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) -Romania turned in a high-octane performance to win their first European Championship match in 24 years with an emphatic 3-0 victory over Ukraine in their Euro 2024 Group E opener on Monday.

Before the match, Romania coach Edward Iordanescu said his players would fight for every metre on the pitch and they did just that, flying into tackles and racing all over to defend in waves as their boisterous supporters roared them on.

"We've had golden generations with big performances but this generation represents the soul," Iordanescu said. "This team has put the biggest effort into everything. As big a heart as this team, nobody has ever had. This generation is limitless."

Stunning long-range strikes in each half, one from captain and man-of-the-match Nicolae Stanciu and the other from midfielder Razvan Marin, shocked Serhiy Rebrov's Ukraine, who had dominated the opening 20 minutes of the match.

Stanciu's cannon shot into the top right hand corner gave Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Lunin little chance. The Real Madrid keeper should have done better on the second, however, which slipped underneath him as he dived.

Stanciu called his strike the goal of his career and said the support from fans was like something he had never experienced.

"To score at a Euro finals and to win in the manner that we did it's just incredible," he said. "(The support) was unique. We've never felt anything like this before. My siblings, my father and my wife all had tears in their eyes."

Rebrov's side paid dearly for their inability to convert their early possession into any real chances, as Romania soaked up the pressure and then struck first after dispossessing Ukraine deep in their own half.

"I'm really disappointed with our performance," Ukraine captain Taras Stepanenko said. "Today we were not the team like we always were. Romania deserved this win and we have to keep going."

Dennis Man -- who became the first Romania player to provide multiple assists in a single match at a major tournament since Gheorghe Hagi against Colombia in the 1994 World Cup -- created the first goal after intercepting Lunin's poor clearance and sweeping the ball to Stanciu.

The result was all but confirmed shortly before the hour mark when Man drove into the box from a corner and put the ball across goal for Denis Dragus to tap in.

Romania's tight-knit defence denied Ukraine any real sniff at goal, helping secure their country's second win across 17 matches at European Championships, the first being a 3-2 victory over England at Euro 2000.

Romania's players hugged each other following the final whistle and stayed on the pitch to celebrate with their cheering supporters.

The match was briefly interrupted by two separate pitch invaders, who were quickly escorted away by stewards.

For Iordanescu, whose father Anghel had three spells in charge of Romania and took them to the 1994 World Cup quarter-finals, the victory showed his side's unbeaten qualifying campaign was no fluke.

(Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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