The Netherlands got their debut campaign in a UEFA European Women's Championship finals off to an impressive start when they scored twice inside the first nine minutes to deflate a Ukraine side who were also appearing at this level for the first time.
Kirsten van de Ven and Karin Stevens ensured that UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ began with early goals and after that Ukraine found it hard to fight their way back into the Group A fixture. They will need to bounce back on Wednesday against Denmark while the Netherlands face hosts Finland.
Ukraine had conceded only three goals in ten qualifying matches, including the two play-off ties and it was a big setback to find themselves picking the ball out of the net with only four minutes gone. Although the Netherlands employed Karin Stevens as a single striker, she did not lack support with an attacking midfield trio quick to join in behind her. The opening goal demonstrated their smooth understanding and fluidity as Stevens sent Sylvia Smit clear out wide. The cross was aimed deep and Van de Ven was ideally placed to prod home at the far post.
Five minutes later and Ukraine were facing an uphill struggle to get back in the match. The dangerous Manon Melis, who scored seven goals in eight qualifying appearances, was allowed room to turn and fire in a fierce shot which Nadezhda Baranova touched onto the bar. Stevens followed up to score with a simple tap-in.
Ukraine wanted to get Daryna Apanaschenko involved as much as possible but she cut a lonely figure up front as a series of long passes from the back were anticipated by a well-marshalled Oranje defence. Lyudmyla Pekur sent a dipping drive just too high in the 13th minute but after that they struggled to put Loes Geurts under real pressure.
Ukraine coach Anatoliy Kutsev sent on Oksana Yakovyshyn at the break and his team enjoyed a stronger start to the second half. Daphne Koster headed clear to end one dangerous moment and the Netherlands soon resumed their control of proceedings.
Smit and then Melis broke away to force Baranova into stretching saves to her right but Netherlands were happy in the main to let their early goals speak for their authority, content that they could hold out. It was a solid team performance with much credit also due to the ball-winning ability of midfielders Annemieke Kiesel-Griffioen and Anouk Hoogendijk. However, Ukraine did set two records on their debut: Olena Mazurenko became the oldest player in UEFA European Women's Championship finals history aged 39 years and 303 days, while Yakovyshyn's appearance made her the youngest at 16 years and 156 days.
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