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Ian Maatsen’s Netherlands held; wins for Ukraine, Georgia, Spain on opening day of U21 Euros

Chelsea youth in action, and non-action

Belgium U21 v Holland U21 -EURO U21 Photo by Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images

The 2023 UEFA European Under-21 Championship kicked off today (Wednesday) in Georgia and Romania, with both host nations in action, as well as potential Chelsea interest with the likes of Netherlands, Ukraine, Spain, and Portugal.

And it were Georgia who produced the first big upset right away, dispatching a much more heralded Portugal side, 2-0. Portugal featured multiple players with Premier League experience, such as Pedro Neto and Nuno Tavares, but Georgia scored twice towards the end of the first half and never looked back. They didn’t even need Chelsea-linked goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili, who got the rest after featuring for their senior team the day before in a 2-0 defeat against Scotland.

Speaking of getting a rest after senior-level involvement, Mykhailo Mudryk also didn’t feature in their first game, a 2-0 win against Croatia. Also not featuring was Chelsea-bound (maybe) Diogo Moreira for Portugal.

One Chelsea player did get a runout, namely Ian Maatsen off the bench for the Netherlands, but unfortunately the young left back could not make a telling impact during his 30 minutes in the scoreless draw against Belgium. And Chelsea-linked Gabri Veiga got 15 minutes for Spain at the end of their ultimately straightforward 3-0 win over Romania (with all three goals coming in the second half).

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