When Christian Eriksen fell on the pitch on Saturday, the Euro 2020 ball seemed suddenly irrelevant. But after the news that the Danish midfielder has recovered and is stable in hospital. Sunday’s games have continued as planned.
And the weekend that will always be commemorated with Copenhagen events ends with the old game in Amsterdam.
Perhaps the Netherlands’ thrilling 3-2 win over Ukraine was precisely needed in this tournament. Something to be celebrated and after the shocking 36 hours of European football.
The Dutch victory should also have been played at the Johan Cruyff Arena. In this stadium, Eriksen became famous when he played more than 100 times for Ajax. Between 2010 and 2013, before moving to Tottenham Hotspur.
The Group C game was a reminder of everything good about football. And at the full-time whistle, there was a lot of hope for the Netherlands in the coming weeks.
‘I didn’t want to talk about football.’
Netherlands coach Frank de Boer coached Eriksen to Ajax at the start of the midfield. And said he experienced emotions after hearing about the player’s fall.
Speaking after his team’s victory over Ukraine, De Boer added: “I have worked for five years with Christian.
“And there are players in my team who still played with him. Or had a good relationship with him while playing for Ajax.
“It was a rollercoaster night, Saturday. We had planned to have a strategic meeting.
“But we had to postpone it in the morning because I didn’t want to talk about football.” During the match, defender Daley Blind was in tears as he entered the second half.
Blind played for the same team as Ajax and Eriksen. And in December 2019, he underwent heart surgery. He, after being diagnosed with myocarditis. Inflammation of the heart muscle.
“Daley was very worried in his heart,” De Boer said. “Even now Christian is one of his best friends. And it’s normal that there were a lot of feelings. So it wasn’t easy for us.”
Nine shots in 10 minutes.
There was a party atmosphere inside the Amsterdam Arena. The most crucial night of Eriksen’s career in 2019. When Wout Weghorst scored 2-0 in the 58th minute just after Georginio Wijnaldum‘s opening goal.
The Netherlands were on their way to three points in their first game back in the major leagues for seven years.
But the 16,000 crowds were silenced as Ukraine struck twice in four minutes. Including the one who shouted Andriy Yarmolenko. Before Denzel Dumfries had provided a late twist. With a well-placed header.
On a typical night, all five goals were scored in the second half. The first took place in the European Championship. When the match was not between goals at half-time.
There were nine explosions in the first 10 minutes.
There were nine explosions in the first 10 minutes of the game. The most recorded in that stage of the game since 1980.
The victory was won without captain Virgil van Dijk. He continues to recover from a knee injury that sidelined much of Liverpool’s 2020-21 season.
“The talent the team has is amazing. That’s what Holland is built for,” former Netherlands defender Mario Melchiot said.
“But you have to remember in tournaments you need a lot of energy. And a little luck to achieve things.”
Moreover, former Netherlands and Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong said that. He could imagine De Boer’s adverse reaction when Roman Yaremchuk won 2-2.
“I’ve already seen the headlines,” he added. “It was an emotional rollercoaster. I have no words.” Some fans were so concerned that De Boer had thrown a traditional Dutch formation.
They flew a banner behind the plane. During a team training on Saturday: “Frank, just 4-3-3”. “I’m free,” admitted Wijnaldum. He signed for Paris St-Germain after leaving Liverpool.
The Netherlands captain said there are lessons to be learned. If the team is to progress in the tournament.
“We let them go back to the game. And that needs improvement,” he added. De Boer said his players could be proud of their work.
“We have seen a good Dutch team, united, controlling and creating opportunities,” he added. “That’s what we want to see. But those two goals we no longer want to see, that was too easy.”
Ukraine coach Andriy Shevchenko could not hide his disappointment after seeing his team drop a point. But added: “It always interrupts losing games like this in the end but it is not a disaster.”
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De Boer is heading to Euro 2020 after 11 games in which he has seen five wins. Four draws and defeats by Mexico and Turkey.
Not all fans are convinced that he is the right man for the role. Yet his youth team and experience have shown great ingenuity.
And the determination to win the top-scoring game in the tournament so far. Much to the delight of the 16,000 underground fans.
While 19-year-old defender Jurrien Timber made his third appearance for his country. Maarten Stekelenburg started scoring at the age of 38.
It was a number against Stekelenburg, Georgi Bushchan, who looked frustrated with the fans. He made some excellent shots to block Memphis Depay and Wijnaldum.
Before the latter opened the scoring, the first five goals in 33 minutes. Yarmolenko’s long-distance run to start Ukraine’s return was a mass pick. But Dumfries’ head lifted the roof as the Netherlands began its campaign with a victory.