Ukraine’s players were kicking themselves after their stirring comeback against the Netherlands counted for nothing following a 3-2 defeat but coach Andriy Shevchenko was proud of his side and optimistic for the rest of their Euro 2020 campaign.
After the Dutch had powered into a commanding lead with second-half strikes from Georginio Wijnaldum and Wout Weghorst, Ukraine showed no signs of giving up and pulled level with two goals in four minutes.
Andriy Yarmolenko’s stunning curler and Roman Yaremchuk’s header from a free-kick looked to have earned Ukraine a point, but Denzel Dumfries bundled in a late third goal for the Dutch.
“It’s so frustrating to lose a game in the last minutes,” said Yarmolenko. “It’s hard to take it now, with so many emotions. It was 2-0, then 2-2 and yet we lost.”
Captain Oleksandr Zinchenko added: “We are very disappointed because we showed character and levelled the score in such a hard game.
“It always hurts to concede in the final minutes but it’s football. We have to learn from our mistakes and move forward because this tournament is not finished after one game.”
Coach Shevchenko shared his players’ pain but focused on the positives, which were that his side never let their heads drop in a riveting match.
“I would like to thank my team for the reaction they showed, especially after going 2-0 down – we could have lost the game at that point,” he said.
“It was a real difficult game, we knew who we were playing against, a very serious opponent, and the coaching staff and I are happy with how much we gave.
“It is always upsetting to lose a game like that but it’s not a tragedy, we have two more games to go and we will still play with the same energy.”