Netherlands win group with one game to spare by beating toothless Austria

Memphis Depay, Frenkie De Jong TEAMtalk

Netherlands have confirmed their place in the knockout stages of Euro 2020 after beating Austria 2-0 in their second group match.

After beating Ukraine by a single goal in their opener, the Netherlands were more comfortable this time. Austria barely laid a glove on them as goals from Memphis Depay and Denzel Dumfries proved decisive. It means they cannot be caught in top spot of Group C.

It was ultimately a stroll for Frank De Boer’s side, who took the lead through a Depay penalty after 11 minutes.

They remained in control and doubled their advantage in the 67th minute. Donyell Malen raced towards goal before selflessly teeing up Dumfries for a tap in.

Austria, despite having more possession, offered little in return. But they still have a good chance of qualifying for the next round themselves. They will play Ukraine in their final group match on Monday, in which the winners will confirm second place.

The Netherlands go into their last group match, against North Macedonia, with the luxury of already knowing they are through.

De Boer’s men are guaranteed a last-16 tie against one of the best third-placed teams in Budapest on June 27. Thursday’s result also eliminated their upcoming opponents North Macedonia.

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Holland were boosted by the return of Juventus defender Matthijs De Ligt from injury in the only change to the team which began Sunday’s entertaining, albeit not entirely convincing, 3-2 win against Andriy Shevchenko’s side.

The hosts had further reason for optimism just 11 minutes in as they took the lead.

Austria captain David Alaba was penalised for standing on the foot of Dumfries following VAR intervention. Depay calmly claimed his 27th international goal by dispatching the ball into the bottom left corner from the spot.

Depay, who has been heavily linked with Barcelona as his Lyon contract runs down, should have doubled the lead five minutes before the break.

Patrick Van Aanholt’s searching pass sent Wout Weghorst clear into the box. After he unselfishly squared across goal, strike partner Depay wastefully side-footed over with the goal gaping.

Without suspended forward Marko Arnautovic, Austria failed to create a first-half chance. But they would have been encouraged by that shocking miss and not being further behind.

Franco Foda’s team resumed with more urgency and initially enjoyed increased possession. Yet Holland remained far more dangerous.

Austrian goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann produced a fine stop to deny Stefan De Vrij’s header following a Depay corner. De Ligt’s follow-up effort was fortuitously diverted behind by Michael Gregoritsch.

Dumfries seals win

The visitors did not heed that warning; they finally slipped further behind in the 67th minute.

Austria’s high line allowed Malen a clear run at goal from almost halfway from a Depay pass. The substitute selflessly teed up rampaging wing-back Dumfries for a simple close-range finish.

Holland blew a two-goal lead against Ukraine before recovering to win. But there was no danger of that happening again, despite some late openings for the opposition.

Dutch substitute Owen Wijndal survived a minor scare when he almost diverted the ball into his own goal after a corner, while Alaba flashed wide late on, before Austria replacement Karim Onisiwo tamely headed straight at keeper Maarten Stekelenburg.

Holland’s victory was a seventh in succession against Austria, delighting the majority of the 16,000 crowd and ensuring a second-round spot at the earliest opportunity.