MUNICH: Romania delivered a rapacious 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.

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 had corner gave Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Lunin little chance. Lunin should have done better on the second, however, which slipped underneath him as he dove.

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 on the counter after dispossessing Ukraine deep in their own half.

Before the match, coach Romania 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 the pitch to defend and launch counter attacks as their boisterous supporters roared them on.

The result was all but confirmed shortly before the hour mark when influential forward Dennis 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.

For Iordanescu, whose father Anghel had three spells in charge of Romania and took them to the 1994 World Cup quarter-finals, the victory was a welcome gift for his birthday a day earlier.

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