Netherlands hosted Ukraine at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam, as they returned to a major competition for the first time in over six years. Oranje failed to qualify for Euro 2016 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup in what was a tumultuous period for the great footballing nation, but Euro 2020 is a massive chance for them to make their presence felt on the big stage.
In what was a captivating encounter against an impressive Ukraine side under Andriy Shevchenko, the home side won by the odd goal in five after a goal-laden second half.
Frank de Boer's side took control of the game right from the get-go and created a raft of chances. Gini Wijnaldum, who is the stand-in captain in the absence of Virgil van Dijk, started the game strongly, while Denzel Dumfries also enjoyed a lot of joy on the right flank.
Ukraine goalkeeper Heorhiy Bushchan endured a heroic outing in the first half, as he made a series of outstanding saves to keep the scores level. Netherlands created a lot of chances, but they lacked the cutting edge upfront and were guilty of not making the most of a few clear-cut opportunities.
The second half proved to be one for the ages, as both sides stepped it up a notch to play out an intriguing 45 minutes of football.
Netherlands finally broke the deadlock through Wijnaldum, who slammed the ball into the top corner after the ball fell kindly to him inside the penalty area. Wout Weghorst added another goal minutes later with an instinctive finish from close range after a good bit of work from Dumfries on the right flank.
Ukraine were left to rue their missed chances in the first half, as they struggled to get back into the game after going two goals behind. However, Shevchenko’s side dug deep and staged a magnificent comeback to restore parity on the night.
Andriy Yarmolenko scored one of the goals of the competition so far with a stunning effort from outside the area to give his side a glimmer of home. Netherlands let their guards down and were made to pay for a lapse in concentration, as Roman Yaremchuk completed the comeback with a headed goal from close range.
In a second half that was filled with twists and turns, Dumfries struck the telling blow in the closing stages of the game to record a morale-boosting victory for the Netherlands. The PSV captain headed in a Nathan Ake cross at the far post to give his side a priceless three points to kick start Euro 2020.
As the two sides played out an early contender for the game of the season tag, here are five talking points from the game.
#5 Wout Weghorst makes his presence felt for Netherlands
Wout Weghorst is coming on the back of an impressive season with Wolfsburg, having scored 25 goals in all competitions for the Bundesliga outfit. The towering striker made his presence felt for the Netherlands and repaid De Boer's faith in him after he was chosen to lead the line ahead of Luuk de Jong.
Weghorst was a proper handful for the Ukrainian backline, as he troubled them with his physicality and aerial presence.
The 28-year-old capped off a creditable display for the Netherlands with an important goal in the second half, as he riffled the ball home with his right foot for his side's second goal of the game. He adds a different flavor to the Dutch forward line and could thrive for a side that is blessed with a handful of decent crossers.
#4 Ukraine left to rue missed chances in the first half
Ukraine grew into the game and leveled the scoreline after a stunning comeback in the second half, but they had a handful of chances to break the deadlock before the interval. They made the wrong decision at times and lacked the cutting edge that was required to trouble Maarten Stekelenburg between the sticks for the home side.
Shevchenko and co did score twice in the second half, but it could've been a different story altogether if they managed to break the deadlock on the night.
#3 Wijnaldum and De Jong run the show in midfield
While Gini Wijnaldum led from the front as captain and broke the deadlock on the night, Frenkie de Jong pulled the strings from the center of the park for the Netherlands. The duo complemented each other perfectly, with Wijnaldum's work rate and tenacity acting as the perfect foil to De Jong's natural ability on the ball.
The Barcelona midfielder was one of the best players on the pitch, as he made a series of delightful passes to keep things ticking for his side. Netherlands controlled proceedings from the opening exchanges thanks in no small part to their midfield, although Marten de Roon flattered to deceive with an average display.
Wijnaldum and De Jong struck up a fruitful partnership under Ronald Koeman and have seemingly carried on from where they left off, as they look to continue their rich vein of form in the games ahead.
#2 Dumfries redeems himself after missing 2 glorious chances
In what was an eventful night at the Johan Cruyff Arena, Denzel Dumfries emerged as the unlikely matchwinner for the Netherlands. The PSV defender was in the thick of the action for his side and caused the Ukraine backline a handful of problems with his forward runs. Dumfries missed two glorious opportunities to break the deadlock for his side before the interval, as his close-range header went wide of the post after he was initially denied by Ukraine goalkeeper Heorhiy Bushchan.
However, he made amends late in the game to seal a stunning victory for his side, as he headed home a Nathan Ake cross to score his first goal for the Netherlands. His goal gave his side three points, but it could turn out to be a priceless strike in what looks like a tricky group to negotiate for Oranje.
#1 Netherlands return to the big stage with a bang
After several years in the doldrums, Netherlands finally returned to the big stage at Euro 2020. Oranje failed to qualify for the last two major tournaments and lost former manager Ronald Koeman to Barcelona in unexpected fashion last year, while Virgil van Dijk failed to make his return from injury in time to be named in the squad.
However, in their first game of the season, they showed flashes of brilliance under Frank de Boer, who has been slated for his tactics since replacing Koeman at the helm. Netherlands pressed high up the pitch and controlled the game in midfield, while they also linked up well in attack.
Their defending wasn't exactly top notch, but that is understandable given the fact that they were without Van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt, with the latter set to return to the squad for the next game.
Much like Italy, Netherlands are back on the big stage and will look to record a few sizable scalps in the games ahead.