• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Euro 2024: Austria stun Netherlands to reach knockout stage

Austria

Marcel Sabitzer’s decisive strike secured Austria a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Netherlands on Tuesday, propelling them to the top of Euro 2024 Group D.

The result see Austria finish ahead of tournament favourites France and the third-placed Dutch. All three teams advanced to the last 16, but Austria’s spirited performance in Berlin showcased why they are considered dark horses for the tournament.

An own goal by Donyell Malen put Austria in the lead, but Cody Gakpo equalized for the Dutch early in the second half. Romano Schmid’s header restored Austria’s advantage, only for Memphis Depay to level the score once more. Sabitzer’s late goal ultimately settled the back-and-forth encounter.

“We started weakly… we were too weak in the duels. I have no explanation for that at the moment,” said Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk.

“We talked about it at half-time, (playing like that) is not possible, we know that it has to be much better. We are all responsible for this — there is not one or two guilty people… if we want to achieve anything in this tournament, something has to change.”

Austria’s coach Ralf Rangnick made four changes to the team that eliminated Poland, with defender Gernot Trauner, who scored in that victory, out injured.

Christoph Baumgartner, who also scored in the previous match, was left on the bench. Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman made three changes from the goalless draw against France, including selecting Malen in attack.

Malen’s game began disastrously when he deflected Alexander Prass’ cross into his net while attempting to prevent it from reaching Marko Arnautovic. This own goal gave Austria an early boost, reminiscent of their campaign opener against France where Max Wober’s own goal led to their defeat.

Dutch midfielder Tijjani Reijnders missed a golden opportunity to equalize shortly after, scuffing his shot wide following a neat exchange with Gakpo. While the Netherlands’ vibrant orange supporters have been a highlight of the tournament, they were outnumbered and outsung by the enthusiastic Austrian fans in Berlin.

As Austria dominated possession and outplayed the Dutch, their supporters celebrated each successful pass with glee. Koeman’s frustration was evident on the sidelines, particularly when Malen sent a shot wide of the far post from a promising position.

Austria’s win not only secured their top spot in the group but also demonstrated their potential to challenge the tournament’s strongest teams in the knockout stages.