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Netherlands beat Romania 3-0 to reach Euro 2024 last eight

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The Netherlands swept into their first European Championship quarter-final since 2008 as Donyell Malen scored twice in a 3-0 win over Romania in the last 16 on Tuesday.

Cody Gakpo gave the Dutch an early lead. Still, they could not convert pressure into a crucial second goal until the Liverpool forward set up Malen with seven minutes remaining in Munich.

Romania were gritty but out-classed, lacking the quality to punish their opponents’ profligacy before Malen added his second on the counter in stoppage time.

The victory put the Oranje on course for a quarter-final clash with Turkey or Austria, who beat the Netherlands in 3-2 in the group stage.

“We played a good game. I’m very pleased. Especially after the last game we needed a reaction and today was a good step in the right direction,” Gakpo said.

“We talked a lot about the aggression, the intensity, and defending like a team. It was a good step.

“Sacrifice something for each other and work hard to be your best. Good game overall.”

Ronald Koeman’s side will need to improve their effectiveness in front of goal should they wish to emulate their manager, who was a player for the Dutch when they won the 1988 Euros on German soil.

Before the game, Netherlands’ captain Virgil van Dijk said his side lacked energy and the “will to win” in the loss to Austria.

But the Dutch were still strangely flat in the early stages despite Van Dijk’s rallying cry.

– Gakpo sparks Oranje surge –

Group E winners Romania, whose 3-0 victory over Ukraine in their opening game, was just their second ever win in the Euros, pinned the Dutch back early.

Romania went close when Dennis Man latched onto a superb diagonal ball from Nicolae Stanciu, but the Parma winger blasted over.

The Dutch broke Romania’s momentum shortly after when Gakpo got on the end of a sweeping move to open the scoring on 20 minutes.

Jerdy Schouten sliced a perfect, long pass through the midfield to Xavi Simons, who found Gakpo on the left flank.

Gakpo eluded Andrei Ratiu and seemed to catch goalkeeper Florin Nita off-guard, blasting in at the near post.

The goal ignited a period of Dutch dominance, Stefan de Vrij heading inches wide five minutes later.

The Netherlands wasted a perfect chance to double their lead with half-time approaching when Denzel Dumfries picked Bogdan Racovitan’s pocket and found Simons, who got tangled up and failed to get a decent shot away.

Koeman’s team squandered an array of opportunities early in the second half.

Memphis Depay and van Dijk went agonisingly close before Gakpo’s second was ruled out by VAR for offside.

With every missed chance, the nerves in the Dutch camp seemed to grow, but Romania lacked the quality to truly punish them.

Gakpo, the most impressive man in orange, took matters into his own hands with seven minutes remaining, dribbling through a crowded penalty area and finding Malen who tapped home.

“We work very hard with each other to do our best and I’m happy I could assist Donnie with his goal today,” Gakpo said.

With Romania launching a final attack, Malen broke through on the counter and slid the ball into the goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time to seal the victory.

AFP

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