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AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS – JUNE 17: Denzel Dumfries of Netherlands (obscured) celebrates with Memphis Depay and Luuk de Jong after scoring their side’s second goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group C match between the Netherlands and Austria at Johan Cruijff Arena on June 17, 2021 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo : Piroshka van de Wouw – Pool/Getty Images)
Netherlands and Belgium barged into the knockout stages of the Euro 2020 tournament on Thursday after recording key victories against Austria and Denmark, respectively. Ukraine, on the other hand, kept their title hopes alive as they edged past North Macedonia in their Group C matchup.
Action resumes this coming Friday with three games on the schedule: Sweden vs. Slovakia, Croatia vs. Czech Republic and the mouth-watering clash between bitter rivals England and Scotland.
Netherlands top Group C
Netherlands’ quest for a second European Championship crown remains right on track after beating Austria, 2-0, in Amsterdam. Memphis Depay and Denzel Dumfries scored the all-important goals for the Dutch who booked their spot in the round of 16 with a game to spare. Frank de Boer’s men, who defeated Ukraine in their opening match, are already guaranteed to finish top of Group C.
Memphis Depay opened the scoring for the hosts from the spot after wing-back Denzel Dumfries was brought down by David Alaba inside the box. Depay’s penalty was a thing of beauty, slotting the spot-kick low to Daniel Bachmann’s right for his eighth goal in his last nine games for the Oranje.
Dumfries then doubled Netherlands’ advantage in the 67th minute after a glorious move started by Depay. The Lyon forward sent Donyell Malen free with a weighted pass who then squared the ball to Dumfries who scored with an easy tap-in. It was Dumfries’ second goal of the tournament as he has benefited from his role in de Boer’s system.
De Boer has opted to use a 5-3-2 formation in this tournament with Dumfries playing as a right forward. He has rewarded the Netherlands with some great performances at their first major tournament since reaching the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup.
Netherlands’ defense against Austria was far solid compared to their showing in the group opener against Ukraine. Helping them in that regard was Matthijs de Ligt who returned from a groin injury to firm up the Dutch backline. They kept Austria at bay for majority of the contest with Alaba’s attempt in the dying minutes their best goal-scoring opportunity.
With victory in Group C secure, the Netherlands will next face the third-placed finisher from either Group D, E or F in the round of 16.
Belgium reach last 16 with comeback win
Belgium also booked their place in the round of 16 on Thursday, defeating Denmark, 2-1, in a thrilling encounter at Parken Stadium. It was an emotional matchup between the two sides as fans and players paid tribute to Danish international Christian Eriksen, who is still recovering in a hospital after suffering cardiac arrest in their opening group match against Finland.
Denmark started the game in spectacular fashion, with Yussuf Poulsen scoring the opening goal after just one minute and 39 seconds. The Belgians, however, launched a stunning fightback with Kevin de Bruyne providing the inspiration for the come-from-behind victory.
De Bruyne, who came off the bench at the start of the second half, played a part in the equalizer, finding goal-scorer Thorgan Hazard with a brilliant pass in the build-up. De Bruyne then scored the match-winner with 20 minutes remaining to give Belgium the 2-1 victory.
Ukraine also entered the winners’ circle on Thursday with a 2-1 victory over North Macedonia. with Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk the goal-scorers.
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