An engrossing first half played with speed, muscularity and lots of ambition. All that’s been missing is precision in the box, whether in terms of the final interplay or the finishing. Below are some of the live report scenes of the first half…
Ukraine break! Marlos nips a pass into Yaremchuk in the area, The striker rolls a backheel into the path of Yarmolenko, who dinks the ball over the last defender … but can;t retrieve it before the keeper.
The Netherlands continues to crank up the pressure. Ukraine is just battening down the hatches now. “I know it’s a bit early to say, but do you think that so far this is the best match we’ve had at the Euro?” wonders Alexandre Cheseneau. “I certainly think so. Two really good teams, giving it all they have. That’s a proper match. Perhaps a little lack of quality in the box which means we don’t see that many chances, but otherwise this is really great.” It’s certainly the most entertaining 0-0 for a while.
Depay scoops a ball over the defence, urging a teammate to run on to it. But a defender gets there first and heads it to the edge of the area. Wijnaldum is waiting for it and smashes a volley goalward. It takes a deflection but Bushchan adjusts quickly and paws it away with his left hand. What a save!
Ukraine pen the Dutch into their own area as they probe. They eventually work it to Yarmolenko, who feints to shoot with his left and then turns on to his right and lets fly. It’s a pure strike, but straight at Stekelenburg.
Yaremchuk spreads the ball wide to the right, giving Yarmolenko a chance to run at Blind just outside the box. The defender does very well not to commit himself and then ushers the forward away from the danger zone.
We all wait for the second half.