Ukraine’s Comeback Win Against Slovakia Revives Euro 2024 Campaign

Comeback Victory Over Slovakia Puts Ukraine Back on Track (Ukraine/Euro 2024)

Resilience defines Ukraine’s journey at the European Championship, both on the field and in inspiring their compatriots despite ongoing conflict. After suffering a 3-0 defeat to Romania in their opener, Ukraine conceded early to Slovakia on Friday but rallied for a crucial 2-1 victory, igniting emotional celebrations with their supporters.

“Our mental strength was shown to the best of our ability on the pitch,” remarked midfielder Mykola Shaparenko through a translator, after scoring one goal and assisting another.

Comeback Victory (Ukraine/Euro 2024)

This marked Ukraine’s first comeback win in the Euros in 12 years and their third in four competitive matches this year. More importantly, it kept them in contention for the last 16, with substitute Roman Yaremchuk’s goal sealing the win.

“Showing that Ukraine can fight, overcome obstacles, and win is exactly what Ukraine’s National Football Team is doing today,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted on social media.

Ukraine’s two 2-1 comeback wins in the playoffs in March to reach Euro 2024 had set the stage for their campaign revival against Slovakia. Their next target is advancing to the knockout stages in their first major tournament since Russia’s invasion in 2022, likely requiring at least a draw against Belgium on Wednesday. The 3-0 loss to Romania had left Ukraine with a poor goal difference, meaning another defeat would have spelled elimination.

“Today, it was a different spirit,” coach Serhiy Rebrov said. “It was a very important win for our country, for Ukraine, for our fathers, for our supporters, and I’m sure today they were proud of the players.”

Slovakia, now level with Ukraine and Romania at three points in Group E, faces Romania on Saturday.

Rebrov made four changes to the team post-Romania loss, yet defensive vulnerabilities persisted early on. Goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin, replacing Andriy Lunin after his errors against Romania, made crucial early saves but couldn’t prevent the opening goal. Ivan Schranz, who also scored in Slovakia’s 1-0 win over Belgium, was left unmarked and scored.

Zinchenko, culpable for the first goal, redeemed himself by assisting Shaparenko’s equalizer. Yaremchuk’s substitution for the ineffective Artem Dovbyk proved pivotal as he broke through Slovakia’s defense to score the winner.

Slovakia aims to avoid a repeat of Euro 2021, where they won their first game but lost the next two, leading to elimination on goal difference. They might have to face Romania without defender David Hancko, who suffered a hamstring injury, coach Francesco Calzona noted.