They took their time in getting up to full speed but in the end it was worth waiting for. Despite being second best for parts of the game, hosts Ukraine scored early in each half, including a stunning free kick, to take their first ever major European title and condemn England to their second runners-up medal collection of the summer.
Both teams made changes ahead of the Final, with the home team bringing Serhiy Rybalka and Vitaliy Kaverin back after suspension, replacing Sergii Shevchuk and Dmytro Yeremenko. England drafted Joe Mattock in at left-back in place of striker Rhys Murphy, moving Middlesbrough’s Joe Bennett into midfield and Nathan Delfouneso to the other flank. The group stage meeting saw Kyrylo Petrov give his team a very early lead and inside five minutes at the Olympic Stadium in Donetsk, they had another early advantage. Dmitriy Korkishko swung over a corner and Denys Garmash, scorer of two Semi Final goals against Serbia, smashed the ball past Jason Steele.
Despite the goal, England bounced back well and had the possession and territorial advantage. Some of their attacking may have been of rudimentary direct nature, but it was causing worries, and just after the quarter hour mark Delfouneso had a goal dubiously disallowed for offside. It was as close as the Three Lions were going to get in a first half which began to struggle under the weight of a number of fouls, with a discernable lack of goalmouth action. The start of the second half, however, saw things get better for the hosts.
Much like the first half, within five minutes of kickoff they had a goal, and it was in sublime fashion. A careless foul from Dan Gosling left an opportunity some 30 yards out in a central position. Korkishko, who provided the first, stepped up and whipped a sumptuous shot over a static wall and past the helpless Steele for a quite fabulous second goal. It flattened England’s second half enthusiasm, and put a marker down for the remainder of the game.
England had been looking lethargic at times and with the arrival of a two-goal deficit, there seemed a distinct lack of effort to get back into the game. Welbeck’s running was admirable but he found a lack of support and a lack of creativity from midfielders Lansbury and Drinkwater, who was withdrawn in favour of Andrew Tutte. It was Gosling who had the best of Brian Eastick’s team’s chances midway through the second half, meeting Joe Bennett’s neat cross on time, but his shot was well blocked by the defence.
Content with their lead, Ukraine didn’t really force the issue, and despite often coming forward they weren’t really worrying Steele. At the other end Welbeck was withdrawn for the physical presence of Nile Ranger, but nothing was forthcoming. Mattock’s free kick stung the hands of Levchenko but never particularly threatening, and it was about the most work the stopper had to do. The game petered out in six minutes of stoppage time and the referee’s final whistle sent the 20,000 fans into raptures, with Korkishko lifting the trophy in fantastic scenes.
Ukraine: Levchenko, Kushnirov, Partsvaniya, Kryvtsov, Korkishko, Petrov (Ieremenko 90), Garmash, Shakhov, Rybalka, Kaverin (Shevchuk 80), Chaykovskiy
England: Steele, Walker, Briggs (Hoyte 56), Trippier, Bennett, Mattock, Gosling, Drinkwater (Tutte 55), Lansbury, Delfouneso, Welbeck (Ranger 63)