THE Netherlands survived an almighty second-half scare to ensure their Euro 2020 campaign got off to a winning start in Amsterdam after a late strike from Denzel Dumfries spared the Oranje’s blushes against Ukraine.

After a goalless first half where the hosts dominated without breaking the deadlock, the Dutch soon gained the upper hand in a barnstorming second half when Georginio Wijnaldum and Wout Weghorst scored in quick succession to put their side 2-0 up, only for Andriy Shevchenko’s men to peg them back through Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk.

As the game entered its frantic finale, it was Dumfries who provided the match-winning moment with a composed finish under pressure to ensure his team’s campaign began with a vital three points.

Frank de Boer’s men started brightly in the Dutch capital and soon established a degree of control over proceedings as they shifted the ball around the park and smothered their opponents.

Ukraine were reduced to sitting deep and springing forward sporadically on the counter, and did so to good effect on a few occasions. West Ham winger Yarmolenko and Gent striker Yaremchuk combined well in the final third and always looked like the visitors’ most likely route to goal, but neither managed to seriously test Maarten Stekelenburg in goal.

The Dutch, while looking a little ropey at the back on occasion, were breathless at times in attack as they sliced Ukraine open. But for all their dominance and the host of chances that were left begging, the two sets of players trudged off level at the interval.

The hosts were undeterred, though, and came out for the second half determined to break the deadlock. The ante was upped, the pressure dialled up a few sizeable notches until finally, 10 minutes after the restart, the Ukrainian resistance was broken. A dangerous-looking ball across the face of goal from was awkwardly shoved into the path of Georginio Wijnaldum by goalkeeper Heorhiy Bushchan, and the midfielder showed great composure to curl the ball into the gaping net.

Things quickly went from bad to worse for Ukraine when the Netherlands’ bustling centre-forward Wout Weghorst doubled his side’s lead five minutes later but Andriy Shevchenko’s players could feel aggrieved about the manner of the goal. Right wing-back Denzel Dumfries appeared to bundle Vitaliy Mykolenko over in the area and as the ball ricocheted around the box in the aftermath, looked to be in an offside position as Weghorst slammed the ball home. The referee saw no issue and after a quick VAR check, the goal stood.

It would have been understandable if Ukrainian heads dropped but to their credit, the away side managed to drag themselves back into the contest. Yarmalenko got the ball rolling in more ways than one when he curled a delightful shot past the despairing arms of Stekelenburg to reduce the arrears, and Shevchenko’s side were in dreamland a matter of minutes later when Yaremchuk made the most of some sloppy defending at a set-piece to steer the ball home for 2-2.

The Dutch weren’t done, though, and the pendulum soon swung back in their favour. With the clock winding down, Nathan Ake swung an inviting ball towards the back post and Dumfries timed his leap perfectly to head the ball downwards and beyond the arms of Bushchan to seal a thrilling win.