The Netherlands reached the Euro 2020 last 16 from Group C with one game to spare after beating uninspired Austria 2-0 on the goals from Memphis Depay and Denzel Dumfries at the Johan Cruyff Arena here.
The Dutch side didn’t need long to kick off things on home soil as Austria defender David Alaba fouled Dumfries inside the box, allowing Depay to make it 1-0 following a penalty, reports Xinhua news agency.
Austria had their hands full keeping the Netherlands at bay. Depay missed the target though from a tight angle but rattled the outside of the netting to send a warning in the 24th minute.
Four minutes later, Franco Foda’s men showed a vital sign with a quick combination through the lines but for all that Christoph Baumgartner’s shot on target got blocked by Matthijs de Ligt.
The hosts created a few more opportunities in the closing stages of the first half but failed to extend the lead as neither Depay nor Georginio Wijnaldum was able to make it two despite promising chances.
Austria came out strong after the interval while the Dutch defended deep and cleared their lines with long balls out of their territory.
However, Austria weren’t able to find a gap in the host’s rock-solid defence and got punished in the 67th minute when Doynell Malen, who was fielded three minutes earlier, raced down the left wing before crossing the ball to the far post where Dumfries poked home into the empty goal.
Austria tried to hit back but the Netherlands’ defence stood firm to keep a clean sheet.
“We were well-organised at the time but weren’t clinical enough in the final third,” said Austria head coach Franco Foda.
“It was a match in which we didn’t create too much but we were in control. I didn’t get the feeling that Austria had many chances. It wasn’t easy, but you don’t expect that at a tournament like this,” said Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt.
With the second win in as many games, the Netherlands (6 points) secure a first-place finish in Group C. Ukraine (3 points) sit in second followed by Austria (3 points) and winless North Macedonia (0 points).
On Monday, North Macedonia clash with the Netherlands, while Ukraine encounter Austria in an all-or-nothing game.