Euro 2020 data dive: Sterling win streak continues, Netherlands-Ukraine make history in five-goal thriller

By Sports Desk June 13, 2021

The Netherlands edged a 3-2 thriller with Ukraine in the pick of the Euro 2020 matches to date, while England and Austria also got off the mark in their opening group games on Sunday.

Denzel Dumfries was the late hero for the Oranje with his first international goal to sink Ukraine, who had battled back from two goals down in Amsterdam to temporarily level things.

Austria also left it late to see off minnows North Macedonia 3-1 in Bucharest earlier in the day and England beat Croatia 1-0 at Wembley through a well-taken Raheem Sterling strike.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform looks at some of the best facts from across Sunday's entertaining action at Euro 2020.

England 1-0 Croatia: Three Lions make winning start at Wembley

Sterling's first goal at a major international tournament in his 13th appearance was enough for England to overcome Croatia in a repeat of the 2018 World Cup semi-final.

Croatia offered very little in response as England made it 11 straight victories in games in which Sterling has scored – the best-such win rate of any player in the nation's history.

The Three Lions are now unbeaten in 12 games at Wembley in major tournaments (exluding penalty shoot-outs), winning eight and drawing four of those matches.

The victory for Gareth Southgate's side in their Group D opener was their seventh in a row in all competitions – their best such run since March 2015 under Roy Hodgson.

It was also the first time England have won their opening game at a European Championship finals in their 10th participation in the tournament.

That is in contrast to Croatia, who lost their first match in the competition for the first time, having won four and drawn one of the previous five.

The contest was also a special occasion for England substitute Jude Bellingham, who at 17 years and 349 days became the youngest ever player to feature at the Euros.

Austria 3-1 North Macedonia: Substitutes strike late to deny tournament debutants

North Macedonia's first ever game at a major tournament ended with a late defeat to Austria in Bucharest.

Aged 37 years and 321 days, 120-cap Goran Pandev became the second-oldest goalscorer in the competition when cancelling out Stefan Lainer's opener.

That was just Lainer's second goal for Austria, with his only other international strike coming against North Macedonia in qualifying.

Michael Gregoritsch and Marko Arnautovic were introduced to snatch the three points for Austria – their first ever win at the European Championships in what was their seventh game.

In doing so, Gregoritsch and Arnautovic became the first pair to score from the bench for the same country in the competition since Michy Batshuayi and Yannick Carrasco for Belgium (v Hungary) in 2016.

Arnautovic's goal to make certain of the win was his 27th for Austria at senior level, with three of those coming against North Macedonia – more than he has managed against any other country.

Netherlands 3-2 Ukraine: Oranje leave it late to edge thriller

The Netherlands ended a run of four straight defeats at the European Championship with a dramatic victory against Ukraine in Amsterdam.

All five goals were scored in the second half, making it the highest-scoring fixture in the competition's history after a goalless first half.

The first half may have ended scoreless, but the tempo was set early on as there were nine shots in the opening 10 minutes – a tournament record since Opta started recording such data in 1980.

Georginio Wijnaldum opened the scoring in the 52nd minute with his 15th goal in 26 appearances for Oranje, having scored only eight times in his first 50 games for his national side.

Wout Weghorst added a second soon after, but Andriy Yarmolenko pulled one back with a sublime strike to end a run of 72 shots without a goal for Ukraine at the Euros.

From the visitors' very next attempt, Roman Yaremchuk headed in an equaliser to seemingly steal a point at the Johan Cruijff ArenA.

But Dumfries found the back of the net in the 85th minute, making it the latest game-winning goal for the Netherlands at the Euros since current boss Frank de Boer scored an 89th-minute penalty against Czech Republic at Euro 2000.

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    Bronze, Beth Mead, who netted a double, Ella Toone and Lauren Hemp scored to seal an emphatic victory for Sarina Wiegman's side in Leeds.

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    "Lucy scored one of them in training yesterday, so I was trying to tell her to take it," a smiling Williamson told Stats Perform after the game. "But at the end of the day she's got forward and we've seen her in that position so many times that when she gets there she'll take it for the team.

    "But also the state of the game and the penalty, it's not great, but our reaction after, you can't change that."

    Following the win, Netherlands boss Mark Parsons said England are favourites for next month's Women's Euro 2022 tournament, and Williamson was asked if teams are playing against them with some fear.

    "A little bit, I think, we're playing well, we're the home nation. It's a brilliant combo to have," she said. 

    "Other countries will potentially look at the score lines and think 'Yeah, England are doing really well,' But I think we've just got to stay focused on what we're doing and what our job is.

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    "We're very much focused on the one game at a time cliche."

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    Speaking after the game, Parsons expressed his admiration for England, pointing to their home advantage and resources.

    "This is our third top opponent we've faced," he said. "Brazil, we felt we should have won, France, we weren't good and didn't deserve to draw or win.

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    "Very difficult evening. I think the one thing we wanted to avoid by taking on such a big game, big opponent early in our preparation, was this outcome" Parsons admitted, before suggesting that England's extra preparation time after the end of their season played a big part.

    "If we had avoided this outcome, I think we will only be taking positives. I feel a big responsibility because I knew how big of a step this would be.

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    The contest had been relatively even in the first half, with the score still 1-1 until the 53rd minute when Mead grabbed her first of the night.

    Three more goals in the last 18 minutes gave the game a scoreline that had not seemed likely at the break, and Parsons took some solace in that, while taking some of the blame himself.

    He added: "Some of the great decision-making we had in the first half had gone [in the second], so it's going to feel like two games. Analysing the first 55, 60 minutes and throwing the last 30, 35 minutes in the bin very quickly because I don't think there'll be anything worth taking from that due to the level where we're at physically, which is normal, but the organisation didn't help the players at that point.

    "When the [final] whistle went, I knew I was going to be analysing a shorter game... There'd be no point in looking any further because I let them down. At that point, the organisation should have been a lot safer, more defensive, because the legs had gone and England were just getting fresher and fresher with their changes.

    "With the home crowd, we felt it once or twice in the first half. In the second half it was the flags and the noise coming from the home crowd, which is an experience we needed to learn. Yeah. Tough night."

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