Ukraine have plenty of work to do in order to progress to the knockout stages of Euro 2024 after beginning their campaign with a 3-0 defeat to Romania, despite the best efforts of their most creative player Mykhailo Mudryk.

Despite controlling possession for long spells of the game, especially during the first half, Ukraine suffered a heavy defeat in their first match at Euro 2024.

Ukraine were up against something of an unknown quantity in Romania, who are making their first appearance at a major tournament since 2016 and had only previously won one match in this competition – against England at Euro 2000. However, while they may not have much in the way of household names, Romania raised eyebrows with an unbeaten qualifying campaign to top their group.

More familiar was the sight of Mudryk lining up on Ukraine’s left wing in what has become a firmly established front three for the nation, alongside Girona duo Viktor Tsygankov and Artem Dovbyk.

The winger saw plenty of the ball in a strong start for Ukraine, who had enjoyed 70 per cent of the possession midway through the first half. Mudryk was staying wide to provide their preferred out-ball, before drifting inside to make space of the overlapping Oleksandr Zinchenko.

The Ukrainians went behind against the run of play when Romania captain Nicolae Stanciu fired into the top corner to ruthlessly punish a weak kick by the goalkeeper, but Mudryk twice came close to creating an equaliser before half-time. First defender Radu Dragusin only narrowly avoided heading the Chelsea man’s dangerous cross into his own net, and then Georgiy Sudakov couldn’t adjust his body to turn in Mudryk’s drive across the face of goal at the back post.

The second half told a similar story. Ukraine started controlling possession, but it was Romania who got the next goal with another shot from range, this time Razvan Marin’s low drive evading Andriy Lunin.

Mudryk tried to spark a comeback, cutting in from the left only to see his powerful shot charged down, but before long Romania found a third through Denis Dragus’ close-range finish.

The Blues winger continued to look the most likely to make something happen for Ukraine, firing just over from a tight angle on the left, but there was no way back from three goals down. That result gives a potentially crucial look to their next match, when they take on Slovakia at 2pm (UK time) on Friday, before concluding the group stage against Belgium five days later.