Netherlands out after stunning Czech Republic victory
Czech Republic pulled off a huge victory against the Netherlands after the Dutch saw red and two great goals from Tomas Holes and Patrik Schick set up a mouth-watering tie with Denmark.
Mattjis de Ligt was sent off near the hour mark after bringing down Schick and handling the ball as he was through on goal, and after a lengthy look at VAR, the referee blew the game open with a red card.
Holes then opened the scoring with a sensational header, with Schick’s strike with ten minutes to play killing the Dutch hopes of a quarter-final.
There is always some sort of drama when these two teams meet at a European Championships.
Their clash in Euro 2004 had red card drama, five goals in a 3-2 thriller, and the likes of Nedved and Van Nistlerooy running up and down the park.
17 years on and there wasn’t quite as much drama but it still proved to be an entertaining fixture, with both sides defending superbly whilst playing some exciting attacking football.
Denzel Dumfries has been a hidden gem this tournament, and yet again he was causing all sorts of problems for the Czechs down the wing, but star forward Memphis Depay was struggling to get past Vaclik.
Tomas Soucek of West Ham will have pleased David Moyes after yet another impressive showing in the Czech midfield, but much like the Dutch they too were failing to test the goalkeeper.
Half-time approached, and the Czechs weren’t hanging on as many anticipated, they were giving the Dutch a really good game that they were struggling to find answers for, and they looked more than comfortable, but they needed a little bit of magic or a moment of madness to swing in their favour, and they got just that.
De Ligt fell into the path of Schick who was through on goal, and from the replays it looked like a slap a volleyball player would appreciate which de Ligt gave the ball.
With no option, the referee had to send the 22-year-old off, and from there, the Czechs turned the screw on a flustered Dutch side.
13 minutes later, and Holes hit a sublime header from the edge of the box and the Czech fans went into party mode as they realised this could be a pretty good summer for a side that hasn’t excelled in tournaments for quite some time.
The Dutch completely unravelled at this stage and looked lost for answers, and despite a good showing from Barcelona’s Frenkie De Jong, there wasn’t much else to praise from a side who were so immaculate in the first three games.
In fact, they are the first ever side to win all three group games and then lose their first knockout match in 90 minutes, not exactly a welcome stat for those in bright orange.
That record was confirmed when the leader for the golden boot Schick slotted home his fourth goal with a neat finish in the bottom left corner to all but seal the Netherlands’ fate.
It was an avoidable disaster from the Dutch, but they were outplayed by a team who sat deep, thwarted their attacks, and waited for their moment.
Add in a completely reckless red card and you would almost be entitled to think the Czech’s had it pretty easy ahead of their quarter-final with Denmark on Saturday.
They applied a level of pressure the Dutch surprisingly just couldn’t handle, and we know they will have the power to return to the frame at the next tournament, but with or without Frank De Boer we just don’t know, but it highly looks unlikely after this spectacular collapse.
As for the Czechs, it’s not if they can go far, it’s how far can they go, but they should be proud of what they have achieved this tournament.
Onto Baku for Schick and company, and back to basics for the Netherlands.