Netherlands 2-1 Turkey: Dutch survive onslaught to reach semis

Xavi Simons (l), Stefan de Vrij and Nathan Aké celebrate the defender's equaliser in the 70th minute. Photo: ANP/Koen van Weel

Two goals in a six-minute spell sent the Netherlands into their first European semi-final for 20 years as they came from behind to defeat Turkey’s feisty and ebullient young team.

Oranje looked to have paid for their profligacy in Berlin as they lacked a cutting edge in an otherwise strong opening 20 minutes, with Memphis Depay and Xavi Simons both squandering good chances.

Turkey grew in confidence, with the quicksilver Baris Yilmaz and the lively Arda Güler running the Dutch defence ragged at times. Their aggressive running earned them a succession of corners that led to the opening goal when Samet Akaydin sent a looping header over Bart Verbruggen.

Verbruggen was at fault for the goal, but redeemed himself with a series of vital saves to keep Oranje in the game in the second half, including a point-blank stop in the final minute to deny substitute Semih Kilicsoy.

Stefan de Vrij capped a solid defensive performance with his first goal in Dutch colours for nearly 10 years as he headed in a corner after 70 minutes. Six minutes later a stinging cross from Denzel Dumfries was turned into his own net by Mert Müldur as Cody Gakpo tried to slide the ball in.

The Dutch will now take on England in Dortmund in the second semi-final on Wednesday, hoping to return to Berlin on Sunday for what would be their second European Championship final.

Head coach Ronald Koeman was visibly relieved to have prevailed. “We knew beforehand that it was going to be a difficult match,” he told NOS. “That was based not just on their enthusiasm but their quality, which you saw at the end with the balls they played in. So we’re very happy to have made it to the semi-finals.”

Start for Bergwijn

Koeman named the same 11 players who started against Romania, with Steven Bergwijn preferred to Donyell Malen on the right, though the coach hinted that Malen was likely to feature as an impact substitute later in the game.

Xavi Simons played in an advanced midfield role behind the front three of Cody Gakpo, Memphis Depay and Bergwin, supported by Tijjani Reijnders and Jerdy Schouten.

Turkey were missing three players through suspension, including the Haarlem-born midfielder Orkün Kökçü and Merih Demiral, scorer of both their goals in the last 16 win against Austria, who was suspended for making a gesture in support of the ultranationalist Grey Wolves in his goal celebrations.

The Dutch could have gone ahead in the first minute when Memphis Depay wriggled into the penalty area, only to slash his shot high over the crossbar.

Simons blasted another long-range attempt over, before an overhit cross by Denzel Dumfries almost floated into the top corner and Gakpo snatched a shot wide from an offside position.

Succession of corners

Turkey showed flashes of the counter-attacking verve that had accounted for Austria in the last round. De Vrij was lucky not to be penalised when he tussled with Ferdi Kadioglu as the striker looked to be running clear on goal.

Yilmaz was constantly bustling and harrying Oranje’s back line, testing Virgil van Dijk in a protracted exchange that ended with the Dutch captain shepherding the ball behind for a corner.

Turkey’s first real chance came when Hakan Calhanoglu sent over a free-kick that Abdulkerim Bardakci flicked over from close range, under pressure from Schouten.

The Turks were pushing the Dutch back more and more, although the threat was confined to long-range shots from Arda Güler and Yildiz.

But the momentum was shifting and it was no surprise when Turkey’s fourth corner brought the breakthrough. Güler sent a long corner back towards goal, Bart Verbruggen hesitated for a fatal second and Samet Akaydin rose unmarked to head the ball over the stranded goalkeeper.

Oranje stifled

Oranje were unable to impose themselves up front, with Simons given no time on the ball, Gakpo largely anonymous on the left and Memphis drifting out of the game.

Koeman brought on Wout Weghorst in place of Bergwijn for the second half in an attempt to give the Dutch more options in the air.

The big striker almost had an immediate impact when his header across goal five minutes into the second half just evaded the outstretched leg of Memphis at the far post.

Turkey were increasingly content to sit back and let Oranje pass the ball among themselves in midfield, while rarely threatening to break the defensive line.

Outstanding Güler

Aké was rightly shown a yellow card as he hauled down Güler as the midfielder ran onto a pass, and might have been sent off had De Vrij not been covering.

Güler took the resultant free-kick himself and bent a low free-kick that Verbruggen pushed onto the post with his fingertips to stop it creeping into the bottom left corner.

The goalkeeper was less convincing when he spilled a drive from Yildiz into a melée of players, but Weghorst cleared the ball behind in the nick of time as the Turkish players screamed for a penalty.

De Vrij breakthrough

Weghorst was soon in action at the other end, drawing a save from Mert Günok with a tight shot. From the resulting corner Memphis played a wall pass to Schouten before whipping the ball in for De Vrij to head powerfully past Günok.

Koeman brought on Micky van de Ven and Joey Veerman to boost the attack, and the gamble paid off immediately. Dumfries found space on the right and sent a dribbling cross across the box. Gakpo stretched for the ball under pressure from Mert Müldur, but the defender only succeeded in shunting the ball into his own net.

Turkey poured forward for an equaliser, but a diving challenge from Dumfries blocked Kaan Ayhan before Verbruggen and Micky van de Ven combined to snuff out a strong chance for Turkey.

Substitute Cenk Tosun then headed over the bar before Verbruggen made an instinctive save from Kilicsoy’s close-range shot, allowing Schouten to usher the ball over the goal-line.

Unused substitute Bertuğ Yıldırım was shown a red card and coach Vincenzo Montella was booked as tempers flared in the closing minutes, but the Dutch held out to reach the semi-finals.

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