Two quick-fire strikes from Serhiy Kryvtsov and a Yevhen Konoplyanka penalty secured Ukraine a commanding win against the Netherlands in the opening leg of their UEFA European Under-21 Championship final tournament play-off.
The visitors needed just seven minutes to fire themselves into a position of strength in the tie, Kryvtsov finding the net from a dead-ball situation with a little over 60 seconds gone before repeating the feat soon after. Ukraine went three goals up when Konoplyanka registered following Kevin Strootman's handball, and though Luuk de Jong reduced the deficit soon after, the hosts suffered more misery when Donny Gorter saw red in the final minute.
Pavlo Iakovenko's charges raced out of the blocks in Rotterdam, moving themselves a good deal closer to next summer's finals in Denmark courtesy of their blistering start. Roman Zozulya won the free-kicks for both of their early goals, but it was Yaroslav Rakitskiy and then Konoplyanka who set up Kryvtsov to score, his first coming from a header before he pounced on an error by goalkeeper Tim Krul.
The Jong Oranje enjoyed more of the ball yet they constantly looked vulnerable to counterattacks and could have conceded twice more before the break. Zozulya narrowly failed to make the most of the rebound following a powerful effort from Konoplyanka and Taras Stepanenko then struck the crossbar.
Cor Pot's side improved after the restart and began building pressure on Denys Boyko's goal – notably when Ricky van Wolfswinkel headed on to a post – but just as it seemed the visitors would crack, they went further ahead through Konoplyanka's spot kick. De Jong gave the Netherlands a lifeline when he finished from close range following a free-kick, but they face a major task to turn the tie around in Kyiv on Tuesday – when Groter will be suspended following his challenge on Volodymyr Chesnakov.