Monday, July 15, 2024

Netherlands need to be more clinical for Euro 2024 success, say Gakpo and Koeman

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 16 Jun 2024

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Cody Gakpo and Ronald Koeman were in agreement that the Netherlands must be more clinical in their remaining group fixtures if they are to progress to the knockout stages of Euro 2024 following their victory over Poland.

The Liverpool forward was on target for the Oranje in the first half to cancel out Adam Buksa’s opener, with Wout Weghorst then emerging from the bench to net a late winner and give Koeman’s side a winning start to their campaign.

During the encounter in Hamburg, the Dutch registered 21 shots, their most in a game at a major tournament since 2012, but only four of those were on target, while their opponents managed seven from their 12 efforts, with both ending the contest with 1.26 expected goals (xG).

Gakpo was quick to highlight his side’s wastefulness in the final third, explaining the players will analyse their performance and look to improve against France in Leipzig next Friday.

“It was a tough game against a tough opponent,” Gakpo said. “Obviously, they scored first, so it was more difficult, but I think we created a lot of opportunities and some good chances, but we had to be more clinical.

“We have to analyse the game and see where we could hurt them more, then we have to take that into the next one.”

Koeman echoed the thoughts of the Netherlands’ number 11, saying: “I felt we should have been three or 4-1 up by then but if you want to win you must score goals, so we knew we needed to change something up front.”

Weghorst’s late contribution saw him score the fastest goal by a Netherlands substitute at the European Championships, netting the winning goal of the game just two minutes and 18 seconds after coming off the bench.

The Burnley striker, who spent the 2023-24 season on loan with Hoffenheim, highlighted the importance of the triumph, insisting all eyes are now firmly fixed on claiming a second Euros crown.

“It is so important to get the early win and for me personally, it’s a dream scenario,” the 31-year-old said. “I saw it coming and I felt the goal coming. Our aim now is to leave with the trophy.”

Poland’s winless run against the Netherlands continued, last beating the Dutch in 1980, but they started the encounter brightly when Buska headed home early on, becoming the fourth Poland player to score on his debut at the European Championships after Robert Lewandowski (2012), Arkadiusz Milik (2016) and Karol Linetty (2021).

The 27-year-old believes his side could have taken at least a point from the game, saying: “Of course the Netherlands were driving this match. However, we had a good few situations even after conceding the second goal, it’s too bad that we are finishing this game with zero points.

“I have mixed feelings. First there was euphoria but now I’m just sad that we lost that match. We definitely played a good match against a really good team… No points in this case. However, we are not putting our guns down.”

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