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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Euro 2020: Netherlands 2 – 0 Austria

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The Netherlands booked their spot in last 16 at Euro 2020 as they saw off Austria in Amsterdam to win Group C with a game to spare.

Frank de Boer’s side, who beat Ukraine in their opening fixture, look to be hitting their stride as they outclassed the visitors in front of 12,000 fans at the Johan Cruyff Arena.

Talisman Memphis Depay put the hosts ahead from the spot after David Alaba brought down flying wing-back Denzel Dumfries, who capped a fine performance by adding the second from a swift break in the second half.

The Dutch, who failed to qualify for the past two major tournaments, are into the knockout stages at the European Championship for the first time since 2008.

Austria started their campaign with victory over North Macedonia and their progression will be decided in the final group match against Ukraine.

De Boer came in for some criticism for using a 5-3-2 formation in the build-up but stuck with it after an entertaining 3-2 opening win against Ukraine.

He was rewarded as the Netherlands secured a place in the knockout stages at their first major tournament since reaching the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup.

The marauding Dumfries has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the system, playing more like a right forward, and it was the PSV Eindhoven defender who was caught in the box 10 minutes in, with the penalty given after the video assistant referee intervened.

That allowed Depay to stroke the hosts ahead with his 27th goal at international level – eight of those have come since De Boer took charge in September and he has been involved in 27 goals in the past 22 games for his country.

The Lyon forward had earlier missed a glorious chance to add to his tally, but started the move for the Netherlands’ second when he sent Donyell Malen free for the substitute to unselfishly square the ball and give Dumfries a tap-in for his second of the tournament.

Matthijs de Ligt’s return from a groin injury firmed up what looked a shaky Dutch backline in the opening game and Austria failed to trouble the hosts until the final 10 minutes, with Alaba firing narrowly wide.

The Netherlands will await the third-placed finisher from either Group D, E or F in the next round.

-BBC

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