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Dutch title defenders miss European U-21 Championship

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 9 Sep 2008

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The Netherlands Under-21 team will not be defending its double European title at the continental championship in Sweden next year.

The Dutch, who won the tournament both in 2006 and 2007, had the opportunity to secure qualification last Friday but a 1-1 draw with Norway meant that the match with Switzerland on Tuesday would decide which team was to go through.

A draw was enough versus the Swiss, and the Dutch were close to achieving that result. Goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer saved his side with a parried penalty kick from Zambrella in the 79th minute, but a few minutes later the curtain fell.

A powerful strike from Reto Ziegler in the 86th minute landed behind the keeper to give the Swiss a 1-0 win and a spot at the European Championships.

The Netherlands had dominated the last two championships, with a 3-0 victory over Ukraine in the 2006 final and a convincing 4-1 win over the Serbs a year later.

But cracks began to show at the recent Olympics, where the Dutch did reach the quarter finals but failed to impress in any of the four matches played.

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