Romania earns first Euros win in 24 years while Ukraine apologizes for 3-0 loss

MUNICH (AP) — Romania players celebrated with their yellow-clad fans after their first European Championship win in 24 years.

At the other end of Munich Arena, Ukraine's players apologized to their supporters after the surprisingly bad 3-0 loss.

Goals from captain Nicolae Stanciu, Răzvan Marin and Denis Drăgus on Monday led Romania to only its second win in Euros history, after a stunning England 3-2 at Euro 2000.

Edward Iordănescu, the first coach to lead Romania at a European Championship since his father Anghel in 2016, hailed his players as a “generation of soul.”

“A fantastic effort by my team. If you had any doubts, you can believe me now that this is a great team,” Iordănescu said a day after he turned 46. "We have had golden generations. But this nation does not represent any metal, it is the generation of soul.

“My family have lived these kind of situations for years. But such a big heart, such a soul as this team has, no one has had that. This has to be the generation of soul for Romania. This generation is limitless.”

Stanciu also hit the bar as Romania thoroughly beat up Ukraine, which is at Euro 2024 amid the backdrop of war at home and hoping to give its citizens some joy as they suffer from Russia's invasion.

“Everyone apologized,” Ukraine coach Serhiy Rebrov said. "The players are feeling that they didn’t do enough. Because before the game we told them here we are representing the big, strong country which is fighting more than two years for our freedom.

“What I am feeling, what the players are feeling, that today we didn’t do good enough. That’s why they apologized. Now we have to shut our mouths and prepare very serious for the next game to show the other Ukraine.”

It was an emotional match for both sides. The stadium was a sea of yellow, the main color for both teams.

Romania was making its first appearance in a major tournament for eight years. Several players were in tears during the national anthem.

Just to underline its cause, Ukrainian soccer officials unveiled an installation in Munich of a stadium stand destroyed by Russian troops in May 2022.

“One team on the field but a million soldiers who stay and defend Ukraine,” said former Ukraine coach and striker Andriy Shevchenko, the president of the country’s soccer federation. “We are all together. We play today for the country. We play today for the people who defend our lives and our country.”

All was going well for Ukraine until the 29th minute when goalkeeper Andriy Lunin kicked the ball straight at Dennis Man, who teed up Stanciu for a fierce strike into the top left corner against the run of play.

Eight minutes into the second half, following a swift counter, the ball broke kindly to Marin and he drove it into the bottom left corner from just outside the area. Lunin, the Real Madrid goalkeeper who filled in for the injured Thibaut Courtois for much of the season, was again partially at fault as the ball slipped underneath his arms.

Ukraine achieved comeback victories in both of its qualifying playoff matches but its hopes of doing so again ended in the 57th when Man mazed his way into the area and rolled the ball across to Drăguș for a tap in.


AP Euro 2024:

Daniella Matar, The Associated Press