Romania 0-3 Netherlands: Gakpo dazzles at heart of Oranje storm - (2024)

Romania 0-3 Netherlands: Gakpo dazzles at heart of Oranje storm - (1)

Cody Gakpo scored one goal and created a second for Donyell Malen as a revitalised Oranje swept aside Romania to qualify for the quarter-finals of Euro 2024.

The Netherlands were unrecognisable from the team that slumped to defeat against Austria in their final group game, with Gakpo’s inventiveness, the penetrating runs of Denzel Dumfries and the incisive passing of Jerdy Schouten carving open a Romania side that faded badly after a bright first 15 minutes.

Substitute Malen brought energy in the second half, sealed the game from Gakpo’s cutback and applied the coup de grace with almost the last kick of the game with an unstoppable solo run and shot.

It was Oranje’s first win in the knockout stages of the European championship for 20 years. Their opponents in Saturday’s quarter-final will be Turkey, who upset the odds to beat Austria 2-1 in Leipzig.

Head coach Ronald Koeman recalled Dumfries at right-back after the defender was rested against Austria to protect a hamstring niggle.

Up front, Ajax’s Steven Bergwijn was preferred to Donyell Malen on the right in a rejigged front line, with Memphis Depay playing ahead of Gakpo, Xavi Simons and Bergwijjn.

That meant no place in midfield for PSV’s Joey Veerman, withdrawn after 35 minutes against Austria, as Koeman opted for a two-man midfield of Tijjani Reijnders and Jerdy Schouten.

The Romanians survived an early scare when Ianis Hadji spent several minutes on the ground being treated for a suspected blow to the head, before being bandaged up and allowed to continue with a hair net.

Shaky start

Romania had clearly studied the ponderous performance of the Dutch back line against Austria and set about them with menace.

Bart Verbruggen had to rush out of his goal to intercept an early chance before Dennis Man fired a fierce diagonal shot just over the bar from long range.

But after a shaky 15 minutes Dutch started to find their rhythm and won two quick corners before Gakpo put them ahead with their first clear chance. Schouten threaded a ball through to the Liverpool forward who cut in from the left, wrong-footing Andrei Ratiu, and caught goalkeeper Florian Nita with a low shot that squeezed inside the left-hand post.

It was Gakpo’s third goal of the tournament, making him joint top scorer, and galvanised Oranje, with Dumfries finding plenty of space on the right. Romania had to defend a succession of corners as the blue shirts poured forward, the best of which was headed narrowly wide by Stefan de Vrij.

Depay lively

Depay was lively and threatening through the middle, but found himself shut out by the tight marking of Radu Dragusin, who at one point picked the ball off his toe after Dumfries had played a seemingly perfect short ball.

Depay had more success when he drifted off to the right and rolled the ball across the penalty area to Tijjani Reijnders, but the midfielder took too long shifting the ball on to his favoured right foot and the chance was gone.

Simons had an even better chance shortly afterwards, but the ball got caught under his feet and he squinted it wide while Gakpo was standing unmarked just to his left.

Romania hadn’t given up and went close to equalising just before half-time when an error by Virgil van Dijk gave Denis Dragus a chance to score, but his shot was straight into the arms of Bart Verbruggen.

Bergwijn blow

However, they suffered a blow when Vasile Mogos had to go off after coming out worse from a heavy challenge with Dumfries.

Malen came on for Bergwijn, who had been struggling with a leg injury following a tackle in the first half, as Oranje looked to regain the momentum.

Reijnders surged through the midfield but his shot was blocked, before Depay missed a glorious chance from close range when he was unable to get a clean strike after Dragusin’s clearance landed at his feet.

More chances came for Van Dijk, who hit the post with a header, and Gakpo, who tested Nita again with a shot that flew just wide of the left-hand upright. Simons played a diagonal pass to Malen on the right, but his shot was deflected behind.

Gakpo had the ball in the net a second time when he was first to react when a deep corner by Depay was fired back across goal, but the VAR check showed the striker standing just offside.

Depay’s best chance came from a free-kick that he fired low under the wall, but the ball twisted wide of the post.

Veerman close

Schouten came off with 20 minutes to play after an almost flawless game in midfield, giving his PSV team-made Veerman a chance to redeem himself, while Tottenham’s Micky van de Ven replaced Nathan Aké at the back.

Veerman was inches away from becoming the hero when he collected Gakpo’s backheel and shot narrowly wide from a tight angle.

Another driving run through the middle from Malen ended with Gakpo’s shot from the right being deflected wide as the Dutch pressed for the elusive second goal.

It finally came eight minutes from time, just as Wout Weghorst was preparing to take the field, when Gakpo just managed to keep the ball inside the goal-line and pulled back for Malen to poke home.

Weghorst almost added a third a minute from time, but Van de Ven’s low cross was just beyond the reach of the big striker.

Instead it was Malen who added the gloss as he picked up a pass in his own half from a cleared Romanian corner and stormed into the penalty area, ignoring three team-mates to his right as he buried his shot low into the corner.

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Romania 0-3 Netherlands: Gakpo dazzles at heart of Oranje storm - (2024)
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