Netherlands 2-3 Austria: Oranje through with lacklustre display

Captain Virgil van Dijk lets out his frustration as the Netherlands are second best against Austria. Photo: ANP/Koen van Weel

The Netherlands qualified for the knockout stages of Euro 2024 but will have to wait to find out who they play next after finishing third in Group D.

Oranje twice came from behind through Cody Gakpo and Memphis Depay, but created fewer chances than their opponents and almost conceded a fourth goal as Austria deservedly took the points.

The Dutch were already sure of qualification after two matches thanks to results in other groups, but were well below par in an insipid first half and were punished for some ragged defending after the break.

Captain Virgil van Dijk said it was a “bad night” for the team. “We were slack in possession and one-on-one situations. We were always chasing the game even after we scored straight after the break,” he told NOS.

Head coach Ronald Koeman recalled Joey Veerman to the midfield and rested right-back Denzel Dumfries, allowing Feyenoord’s Lutsharel Geertruida to make his first appearance of the tournament.

The other change was up front, where Xavi Simons made way for his fellow German exile, Donyell Malen, in a three-man forward line alongside Cody Gakpo and Memphis Depay.

Veerman lasted just 34 minutes of the first half before being replaced by Simons. The PSV midfielder was the worst offender in a midfield that looked shapeless and repeatedly gave the ball away in crucial areas.

Own goal

Austria’s early lead came courtesy of Malen, as the striker lunged to cut out a cross from the left but only succeeded in scything it beyond his own goalkeeper.

The Dutch contained Austria for most of the rest of the half while creating few chances of their own. Malen was the liveliest of the forward trio and almost redeemed himself when he shot narrowly wide after being put clear on goal.

Gakpo set up a good chance near the end of the half for Depay, whose looping header was kept out by a combination of defender and post, though there was a suspicion of offside when Gakpo cut through the centre.

At the other end goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen had to be alert to keep out Marko Arnautovic and Marcel Sabitzer as Austria pressed with purpose.

Oranje started the second half with far more energy and were instantly rewarded when Geertruida, pushed forward into a midfield position, combined with Simons and Gakpo before the Liverpool forward curled in an equaliser from the left-hand side.

But just as the Dutch seemed to have the upper hand they were hit on the counter-attack. Florian Grillitsch was given far too much space in the left-hand channel to cut back to Romano Schmid, who smashed in a diving header.

Weghorst impact

Koeman brought on Wout Weghorst for Malen as the tempo began to flag and the big striker made an instant impact, heading down in the penalty area for Depay to finish smartly from close range.

The goal was given after a long video check after the on-field referee initially ruled Depay had controlled the ball with his hand.

But the reprieve lasted just two minutes as Sabitzer ran onto a through ball from substitute Christoph Baumgartner and lashed an unstoppable diagonal shot into the roof of the net.

Baumgartner thought he had scored a fourth from a tight angle shortly afterwards, but he was standing offside.

Austria go through to the last 16 as group winners after the other match between France and Poland finished 1-1. They will play the runners-up in Group F, who are most likely to be Turkey or the Czech Republic.

The French finished second and will face the second-placed team from Group E, which includes Belgium.

The Netherlands will play a group winner as one of the best third-placed teams, but the identity of their opponents will only be known once the final group matches have been played on Wednesday.

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