Euro 2024 Daily: Ukraine show heart, Arnautovic shines for Austria

Sports

Euro 2024 is underway! Our daily files give you the latest reporting from around the tournament as well as betting lines, what to watch for and best reads.

Check in with ESPN throughout the tournament as we bring you the latest from Germany all the way up to the final on July 14.


The lead: Ukraine respond to pressure to keep Euro hopes alive

DÜSSELDORF, Germany — Ukraine played this match under incredible pressure. From a footballing perspective, defeat against Slovakia would have made advancing to the knockout stages a tough prospect. Then there was the pressure of public expectation, as the war with Russia continues back home. The bulk of the support in the stadium was with Ukraine; there are 1.1m Ukrainian refugees in Germany, and roughly 10,000 live in Dusseldorf.

In a prematch fan march, a vast Ukraine flag was unveiled as the supporters chanted “Danke Deutscheland” [Thank you, Germany.] The reminders inside the ground were there: soldiers immortalised on flags, although one reading “Give us elections back” vanished soon after kick-off.

Having floundered in a 3-0 loss against Romania in the previous game, the pressure mounted on Ukraine early as they went a goal down when Ivan Schranz scored after Oleksandr Zinchenko missed a cross. But, after flitting between trying to play intricate football at 100mph and going route one, coach Sergiy Rebrov illustrated the benefit of well-judged replacements to turn the game around in the second half and keep Ukraine’s hopes of reaching Euro 2024’s knockout phase alive.

Indeed, it wasn’t until he made substitutions in the second half that Ukraine really hit their stride. After that they played quicker, passes landed, and they fashioned a brilliant equaliser in the 54th minute as Zinchenko’s lay-off allowed Mykola Shaparenko to slot home. Then came Roman Yaremchuk‘s winner in the 80th minute — a goal that deserved to win any game.

Shaparenko’s long ball over the top saw Yaremchuk control it with his big toe — an incredible display of skill in such a big match — and the tall striker clipped it past the advancing Martin Dúbravka. For a split second, the crowd held its breath as the ball crept over the line to sheer relief from those in yellow-and-blue as Milan Skriniar tried in vain to keep the ball out. Rebrov danced along the touchline, and Ukraine’s campaign was back on track. For a brief moment of sheer escapism, all was well.

At full-time Yaremchuk fell to the ground. His teammates picked him up, and they went over to their fans. As one, they shouted “Ukraine” into the mid-afternoon sky. This was a victory built on tactical acumen and a deft finish but it was also about heart. Up next is Belgium and Ukraine’s say in Euro 2024 isn’t over yet. — Tom Hamilton

– Euro 2024: Landing page | Schedule | Rosters | News
Team previews | Predictions for every team (ESPN+)


Sights and sounds around Euro 2024

Slovenia kids give team a lift

MUNICH — Slovenia were seconds away from recording their first-ever Euros win at the Allianz Arena on Thursday, only for former Real Madrid striker Luka Jovic to come off the bench and head in a 95th-minute equaliser for Serbia. It was such a devastating blow that Slovenia’s players could barely lift themselves off the floor for the restart and slumped back to the ground when the final whistle was blown immediately afterward.

But it was a different scene a few minutes later, when the players returned to the pitch with their children. Most of the youngsters took the opportunity to do cartwheels on Bayern Munich‘s pitch before taking part in an enthusiastic game of tag. It meant that when Slovenia’s players left the pitch for a second time, there were smiles and jokes rather than doom and gloom.

At the same time, head coach Matjaz Kek was in his postmatch news conference saying that he believed that football would serve up “karma” for Serbia’s late goal in Slovenia’s next game against England. So watch out, Gareth Southgate! — Rob Dawson

‘Don’t drink and ride,’ fans warned

FRANKFURT, Germany — One of the more unexpected problems in Germany during Euro 2024 has been the availability of e-scooters in the host cities and the appeal to some supporters to use them while drinking.

Prior to England’s Group C clash with Denmark in Frankfurt on Thursday, the sight of several football fans whizzing around on the scooters, which can reach a top speed of 20 km/h, led to some near misses at junctions and pedestrian crossings. And there was also an incident in Cologne which saw two Scotland fans collide with trees after losing control of their scooters.

Costing just €1 to unlock and 20 cents for every 15 minutes of use, they are a cheap way to get around the city, but Frankfurt Police were forced to issue a warning to visiting supporters on Thursday after several England and Denmark fans were stopped and found to have been riding the scooters under the influence of alcohol.

In a post on X via their official account, Frankfurt Police said: “Today we have already checked several scooter users in Frankfurt who were under the influence of alcohol. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is punishable and dangerous!” — Mark Ogden

Fans party in ‘world’s longest bar’

DÜSSELDORF, Germany — “The world’s longest bar” is drawing fans of all nations to Düsseldorf this month — even if their countries are not actually playing in the city during Euro 2024. It is not actually one massive bar, as it’s marketed by the tourism board, but a collection of 260 pubs, restaurants and bars all side-by-side within half a square kilometer in the Altstadt (Old Town).

The strip is constantly rammed. On Wednesday, Croatians and Albanians danced arm in arm on the cobbled streets before Germany fans poured out for their win over Hungary, while there was also a healthy contingent of Turkey, England and — as with everywhere you travel in this tournament — Scotland fans.

On Thursday, Spain and Italy fans arrived for a day of drinking and eating before heading to Gelsenkirchen for their Group B encounter. That’s the other pull for Düsseldorf, which is hosting three group games: its location. Cologne, Dortmund and Gelsenkirchen are all easily accessible, so why not base yourself at the longest bar in the world? — Sam Marsden


Stat of the day

In the 19th game of the tournament, Ivan Schranz scored against Ukraine to become only the second player to reach multiple goals at Euro 2024 after Germany‘s Jamal MusialaESPN Stats & Information


Match previews for Saturday

Group F: Georgia vs. Czechia (Hamburg; 3 p.m. local / 9 a.m. ET)

Odds (via ESPN BET): Georgia +380, Draw +270, Czechia -140

HAMBURG — Georgia were beaten 3-1 by Turkey in their opening game in Group F, but coach Willy Sagnol insists they won’t change the way they play. Losing 2-1 and pushing for an equaliser, he sent up his goalkeeper for a corner in stoppage time, only to see Turkey clear the ball and race the length of the pitch to score their third into an empty net. Asked afterward whether he regretted the decision, Sagnol said losing 2-1 or 3-1 was “the same” and that his only aim in Germany was to be as positive as possible.

Georgia, making their debut at a major tournament, won a lot of friends with their fearless performance in a 3-1 defeat against Turkey and they’ll be looking to do the same when they play Czechia on Saturday. Star man Khvicha Kvaratskhelia was quiet by his standards, but if he can find his best form and Georgia can be more ruthless in front of goal, then Czechia will be in for an uncomfortable afternoon. — Dawson

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Moreno: Portugal have given more questions than answers

Ale Moreno reacts to Portugal’s 2-1 win against Czechia in their opening game at Euro 2024.

Group F: Turkey vs. Portugal (Dortmund; 6 p.m. local / noon ET)

Odds: +425, Draw +333, Portugal -175

In a game that is likely to decide top spot in Group E if either side claim a victory, Roberto Martinez’s Portugal face the additional challenge of overcoming huge support for Turkey in Dortmund.

Germany is home to over seven million people with Turkish heritage and Tuesday’s 3-1 win against Georgia, also in Dortmund, was played out in front of a stadium dominated by Turkish supporters. “They were amazing in the Georgia match,” defender Ferdi Kadioglu said. “Even in bad weather, they were at the stadium for us and were so loud. With them, we feel like we are playing with 12 men.”

Portugal snatched a stoppage-time victory against Czechia in their opening game, with substitute Francisco Conceicao scoring within seconds of entering the pitch. In the space of 60 seconds, the FC Porto forward scored and earned a yellow card for his celebration. Liverpool forward Diogo Jota had a goal disallowed for Portugal prior to Conceicao’s winner and claims he is ready to make up for an injury-hit season by delivering for his country in Germany. “Since I got back from injury, I’ve worked hard to get here,” he said. “When I was last injured, I missed out on the World Cup and I wasn’t far away from the same thing happening to me again. Fortunately, it didn’t happen and I’m here ready to help.” — Ogden

Group E: Belgium vs. Romania (Cologne; 9 p.m. local / 3 p.m. ET)

Odds: Belgium -210, Draw +350, Romania +550

Belgium coach Domenico Tedesco was philosophical after his side’s shock 1-0 defeat to Slovakia. After a 14-match unbeaten run, a defeat had to come at some point, but despite his brave face, it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Belgium now need to get at least a point off Romania, who impressed in their 3-0 defeat of Ukraine, if they have hopes of a knockout spot.

Belgium dominated most of the match against Slovakia and Romelu Lukaku had two goals disallowed, but his teammates are sure he’ll rediscover his goal-scoring touch. “I have a lot of confidence in Romelu, there is not one guy in this team I have more confidence in, mentally wise and quality wise,” Jan Vertonghen said. “Romelu loves these moments, that the pressure is on him, the focus is on him.” Belgium will be without Thomas Meunier for the match, but he will be available for their final Group E game against Ukraine.

Romania kept their celebrations in check after their win over Ukraine. They had a quiet dinner together and the following morning coach Edi Iordanescu turned attention to the challenge posed by Belgium, with experienced players such as Denis Drǎguş ensuring no complacency creeps in. There’s a chance Valentin Mihăilă could come into the starting lineup, having missed the opener due to illness, as he was a frequent starter through qualifying and could get the nod ahead of Florinel Coman. — Hamilton


Betting tip (odds via ESPN BET)

We saw victories for both Turkey and Portugal in the opening round of matches and you could take positives and negatives for both sides. Portugal are favorites against Turkey, but I really like a draw here at +333. — Dan Thomas


One big read

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Burley bashes Southgate for not using England’s bench

Craig Burley questions why Gareth Southgate is leaving players like Cole Palmer and Kobbie Mainoo on the bench.

The Trent Alexander-Arnold midfield experiment at Euro 2024 has surely failed after he was slotted into a central position, rather than in his usual right-back role. England manager Gareth Southgate now has to ask himself whether he perseveres with a plan at least a year in the making –which has so far yielded next to no signs of encouragement — or throws something else together in the middle of a tournament.

It is a troubling place to be. The Three Lions were lucky to escape Frankfurt with a 1-1 draw against Denmark on Thursday. Alarmingly for Southgate, they shortened the period in which they were good against Serbia and elongated the bad, spending more than two-thirds of this game looking badly disjointed and unable to exert any sort of meaningful control.

Alexander-Arnold is an undeniably talented and versatile footballer, and despite being deployed into a “hybrid” role for Liverpool where he moves centrally in attack, he’s been unable to deliver for England as a midfielder who can split defences with his passing vision. He was not solely to blame for this — a collective malaise engulfed England almost from the moment Harry Kane gave them an 18th-minute lead — but Southgate’s hope that Alexander-Arnold can provide a fresh dynamic to his midfield looks more misguided with every passing minute.

– James Olley: Southgate’s midfield experiment fails as England labour


And finally …

One of Euro 2024’s best players so far, Germany wonderkid Jamal Musiala is also a big basketball fan. But at 21, you would think that his heroes would be current NBA stars Steph Curry, LeBron James, Luka Doncic, or Giannis Antetokounmpo and if he were to borrow a trademark celebration for one of his goals, it would be one of theirs. But you would be wrong.

After opening the scoring against Hungary in Germany’s 2-0 win on Wednesday, the Bayern Munich playmaker put the three biggest fingers of his right hand by the side of his head, by his right eye, copying Carmelo Anthony’s three-point celebration when he was at the New York Knicks.

Melo — an NBA legend, 10-time All-Star and one of the greatest shooters in basketball history — retired two years ago, so Musiala wanted to pay tribute to one of his favourite players. “My celebration comes from basketball … from Carmelo,” he told the media after the game. — Julien Laurens

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