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Romania open Euro Campaign with Emphatic 3-0 wins over Ukraine

Romania defeated Ukraine 3-0 in their Group E first match in Munich on Monday, earning only their second-ever victory at the Euro Championships.

Romania led by far the bulk of the Munich audience in their Group E opening thanks to a spectacular long-range shot from Captain Nicolae Stanciu.

Before the hour, Romania turned the screw with two more goals, the third of which was tapped in by Denis Dragus. Razvan Marin’s long-range effort then went under Lunin.

It was a disastrous start to the campaign for Ukraine, who must quickly regroup with games to follow against Slovakia and Belgium.

Ukraine players emerged onto the pitch with Ukrainian flags draped over their shoulders in the country’s first game at a major tournament since the Russian invasion in February 2022.

They missed out on qualifying for the World Cup two years ago but secured a fourth successive appearance at the Euros, despite the backdrop of the largest European conflict since World War II.

Three years ago Ukraine reached the quarter-finals under Andriy Shevchenko. But a lot has changed since for a country ravaged by war, with his former striker partner Serhiy Rebrov now in charge.

Rebrov confided that simply taking part in Germany, where more than a million Ukrainians have found refuge, is an important step for the nation.

He said he had received countless messages from people back home, including those fighting on the front line, and that it was up to his team to “show the spirit” of Ukraine in troubled times.

– ‘Worse was to come’ –

Romania advanced through qualifying unbeaten but had not won in four games this year ahead of their return to the big stage after missing out on Euro 2020.

Their last and only previous win at the tournament came when they reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2000.

Ukraine probed early on a warm afternoon at the Allianz Arena without success and paid the price for inviting pressure on themselves that led to a misplaced clearance from Lunin.

The Real Madrid stopper played the ball straight to Dennis Man, who slid a pass across for Stanciu to rifle a sensational 20-yard strike into the top corner.

Lunin was immediately consoled by Oleksandr Zinchenko, but he was nearly beaten again minutes later by Stanciu, this time directly from a corner.

After a deflected Man effort fizzed just wide, Stanciu’s inswinging corner glanced off the bar with the backpedalling Ukraine ‘keeper flapping at thin air.

Worse was to come for Lunin as following a swift Romanian counter-attack, Marin fired a crisp low strike from 25 yards that appeared to deceive him for pace eight minutes into the second half.

Dragus effectively wrapped up the victory shortly after when he prodded in as Man knocked the ball across the six-yard box following a well-worked short corner.

Romania goalkeeper Florin Nita saved well from Georgiy Sudakov late on before substitute Roman Yaremchuk’s lob grazed the bar on its way over, encapsulating what was a day to forget for Ukraine.

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Sydney Okafor

I am so passionate about this my profession as a broadcast journalist and voiceover artists and presently a reporter at TV360 Nigeria

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