Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Romania 0-3 Netherlands: Dutch dominate to book quarter-final place

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 2 Jul 2024

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Cody Gakpo scored and Donyell Malen netted twice off the bench as the Netherlands booked their place in the Euro 2024 quarter-finals with a 3-0 win over Romania.

Gakpo saw his low drive beat Florin Nita for power 20 minutes in to settle the Oranje’s nerves, and they were in total command from that moment on.

The Liverpool man saw a potential second goal ruled out before Virgil van Dijk struck the woodwork, but some fine work late on saw him tee up substitute Malen to make it 2-0.

Malen then added further gloss on the break in stoppage time, and the Netherlands will approach Saturday’s quarter-final tie against Austria or Turkiye with confidence, with a potential semi-final clash with England still on the cards.

The Netherlands made a tentative start and were fortunate to see Dennis Man’s 20-yard drive float over the crossbar, but the Oranje went ahead in the 20th minute.

Gakpo cut inside Andrei Ratiu before shooting from the left side of the area, and Florin Nita arguably should have done better as the ball squirmed past him at his near post.

The Netherlands grew in confidence from there and bossed the remainder of the first half, going close to a second goal when Denzel Dumfries forced an error from Bogdan Racovitan before teeing up Xavi Simons, but the RB Leipzig man took too long before shooting wide.

The Oranje pressure continued after the restart as Ratiu’s desperate tackle prevented Memphis Depay from blasting into a gaping net, before Van Dijk sent a downward header against the post and wide just before the hour mark.

Depay then called Nita into action with a ferocious 25-yard strike before he was denied his brace by a VAR review, being called offside after he poked home following a scramble in the area.

Joey Veerman went closer still when he rolled his shot across goal and wide after finding space on the left of the box, but Ronald Koeman’s team had daylight with seven minutes remaining.

Gakpo did brilliantly to keep the ball in play under pressure from Radu Dragusin, with Malen turning his low cross home for the clinching goal.

With Romania crestfallen, Malen doubled his tally at the death, streaking away on the break before rolling his finish into the bottom-left corner.

Gakpo enters Golden Boot race

Perhaps Nita should have done better for Gakpo’s opener, failing to keep his shot out despite getting two hands to it at the near post, but the Liverpool man caught out the goalkeeper with a lethal strike after turning Ratiu.

He now has three goals at Euro 2024, joining Jamal Musiala, Georges Mikautadze and Ivan Schranz at the top of the scoring charts, with the latter two having already been eliminated.

He also scored three times at the 2022 World Cup, meaning Kylian Mbappe (nine goals) is the only European player to outscore him across the last two major tournaments.

Gakpo is also just the third Netherlands player to score three or more goals at two different major tournaments, after Johnny Rep (1974 and 1978 World Cups) and Dennis Bergkamp (Euro 1992, 1994 and 1998 World Cups).

Romania’s luck runs out

Romania thrilled fans with their matchday-one victory over Ukraine, but after that, they were somewhat fortunate to escape the most balanced group in European Championship history.

Among all teams to progress from the group stage, only Georgia (71) faced more shots than Romania’s 46.

They started brightly as they attacked a sea of yellow at one end of the stadium on Tuesday, but the Netherlands soon assumed control, firing off 23 shots worth 2.75 expected goals (xG) to Romania’s five (0.28 xG).

The extent of the Dutch dominance was illustrated by the fact they had 10 first-half corners, with only Sweden (11 versus Italy at Euro 2000) having more in an opening period at the tournament since 1980.

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