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Gakpo: Netherlands performance the perfect answer to media criticism

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 2 Jul 2024

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Cody Gakpo said the Netherlands’ performance against Romania represented the ideal answer to media criticism as they booked their place in the Euro 2024 quarter-finals.

Gakpo opened the scoring as the Oranje ran out 3-0 winners in Tuesday’s last-16 tie, with Donyell Malen coming off the bench to add two more goals in the latter stages.

The Liverpool man has now scored six goals at the last two major tournaments, with Kylian Mbappe (nine goals) the only European to better that tally across the 2022 World Cup and Euro 2024.

He is also one of just three players to net three or more goals in two separate tournaments for the Oranje, after Johnny Rep (1974 and 1978 World Cups) and Dennis Bergkamp (Euro 1992, 1994 and 1998 World Cups).

The Netherlands were fiercely criticised by the media at home after finishing third in Group D, and Gakpo was aware of the need to respond emphatically.

“This was the answer we had to our last performance – we had a good game, scored good goals, we played good football,” Gakpo said.

“Of course we could do better, but it was a good showing after the last game. A good step in that next direction.

“We felt we were in control even though they were a dangerous opponent. We never had the feeling that we would lose control of the game.”

Virgil van Dijk was among the Oranje players to see his group-stage performances slated, and he was equally proud of the team’s response on Tuesday.

“We were defensively sound and solid and did not give up much,” Van Dijk said. “We could have scored a lot more.

“After a turbulent week, where a lot was said, we had to show something and we did that. We are self-critical and we knew it had to be a lot better after the last game.

“Everyone went for the duels, won the second balls and took chances. Playing good football gives us self-confidence.”

The Netherlands have progressed from a European Championship knockout match for the first time since 2004, when they beat Sweden on penalties after a goalless draw.

Excluding penalties, it is their first win in a knockout game since they thrashed Yugoslavia 6-1 in 2000 – the biggest margin of victory ever recorded at the tournament.

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