Netherlands vs Czech Republic. European Championships Round of 16.
Match report as Czech Republic booked their place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 against Denmark after Tomas Holes and Patrik Schick secured 2-0 win over Netherlands; Dutch were reduced to 10 men when Matthijs de Ligt was sent off
Monday 28 June 2021 06:13, UK
The Czech Republic set up a quarter-final tie with Denmark as second-half goals from Tomas Holes and Patrik Schick dumped 10-man Netherlands out of Euro 2020 with a 2-0 win in Budapest.
Following a goalless first half, Netherlands defender Matthijs de Ligt was sent off upon VAR review for a deliberate handball as the last man after tangling with Schick (55).
The Czechs made their numerical advantage count when the excellent Holes converted at the far post (68), and the contest was put to bed when Schick tucked in Holes' cross to notch his fourth goal of the tournament (80).
Having excelled in the group stages, it was a disappointing end for Frank de Boer's side, but Czech Republic march on to face the emotional wall of Denmark in Baku next Saturday.
Netherlands: Stekelenburg (6), de Vrij (5), de Ligt (5), Blind (6), Dumfries (6), Frenkie de Jong (7), de Roon (5), van Aanholt (6), Wijnaldum (5), Depay (6), Malen (5).
Subs: Timber (n/a), Weghorst (5), Berghuis (n/a), Promes (5).
Czech Republic: Vaclik (7), Coufal (7), Celustka (7), Kalas (8), Kaderabek (7), Sevcik (7), Soucek (8), Masopust (7), Holes (9), Barak (7), Schick (8).
Subs: Kral (n/a), Jankto (n/a), Sadilek (n/a), Hlozekat (n/a), Krmencik (n/a).
Man of the match: Tomas Holes.
The Czechs have now reached a fourth quarter-final in seven European Championships, and, having been runners-up at Euro 96, they will be dreaming of Wembley once more on July 11.
This was the first meeting between the Netherlands and Czech Republic since October 2015, when the Dutch were beaten 3-2 in a Euro 2016 qualifier.
Indeed, they had lost each of their previous two games against the Czechs - both coming in qualifying for the previous European Championships.
Netherlands head coach De Boer continued with a 5-3-2 formation, despite being heavily criticised when he first unveiled the approach. But the debate over the decision to ditch their traditional 4-3-3 line-up had been stifled by a 100 per cent start to the tournament.
It was the Dutch who made the brighter start in front of a packed house at the Puskas Arena as De Ligt rose to meet Daley Blind's short corner after eight minutes, but he was unable to direct his header from an acute angle on target, before Memphis Depay blazed wide from the follow-up.
The Netherlands, who had found their rhythm through three group games in Amsterdam and were the leading scorers in the opening three matches - cantering to top spot - came close again five minutes later when Denzel Dumfries' diagonal run was found by Blind, but Tomas Kalas did well to slide across and block the shot.
Czech Republic had only won one of their previous seven games at major tournaments, but they fired a warning sign midway through the opening period as Tomas Soucek outmuscled Marten de Roon to meet Petr Sevcik's cross, but his glancing header did not trouble Maarten Stekelenburg.
The subsequent drinks break did little for De Boer's men as their opponents came even closer with seven minutes of the first half remaining. Soucek this time was the architect as he found Lukas Masopust, but Antonin Barak's attempt on the overlap was flicked over by a brilliant recovery block by De Ligt.
At the interval, Sky Sports' Gary Neville said on ITV: "The Czech Republic have had the better chances. A bit more of a killer instinct and they could be ahead."
The Netherlands needed a fast restart but an early booking to Dumfries for a flailing arm on Pavel Kaderabek set the tone for an ill-disciplined second period. The game turned on its head in the 52nd minute when Donyell Malen cut through the Czech defence but was denied by Tomas Vaclik as he sought to round the goalkeeper.
Jaroslav Silhavy's side took full advantage of the reprieve as a searching ball forward caught De Ligt the wrong side of Schick within 60 seconds, with the centre-back forced into drastic action to shovel the ball from underneath him with his hand.
Referee Sergei Karasev did not spot the initial infringement, but, upon VAR review by Stuart Attwell, the booking was upgraded to a red.
Sky Sports' Nick Wright said: "The Czechs were already finding a lot of space in attacking areas and there's likely to be more for them now following that red card. The Dutch have switched to a back four. Van Aanholt and Dumfries will surely have to be more selective about when they bomb forward from now on."
Frustrations were boiling over for the men in orange, and they duly fell behind in the 68th minute when Kalas rose at the far post to head a free-kick back across goal for Holes to stoop and head in from close range.
The second drinks break in the sweltering Budapest heat did little to stem the tide towards Stekelenburg's goal, and, following a raft of substitutions, the Czechs made the game safe.
Holes did remarkably well to skip through the Dutch midfield before his cut-back was tucked in by the composed Schick at the near post.
This was the first major shock of Euro 2020, and, with Denmark now awaiting in Baku, the prospect of replicating their semi-final appearance in 2004 is becoming an increasing reality for Czech Republic.
Netherlands head coach Frank de Boer: "They were difficult opponents, but I thought that we were better until the red card. We dominated the game. Denzel (Dumfries) reached the by-line a couple of times in the first half, and so did Patrick (van Aanholt). But in each case, the final ball could have been better.
"Games like this revolve around one or two moments. We had one of them, with Donyell (Malen), and then a few seconds later we were down to 10 men. And the worst thing you can do against a team like this is to fall behind. Then they can just play the game exactly the way they want to.
"Actually at 1-0 I had wanted to go to 3-3-3, by bringing Berghuis on as a right-winger, putting Quincy (Promes) wide on the left and having Wout (Weghorst) as centre-forward, but just before that the Czechs made it 2-0, and so I had to ditch that idea."
Czech Republic coach Jaroslav Silhavy: "I am really proud of my team. We have defeated a great opponent - all of my players were tactically excellent. I am glad we achieved it in front of so many of our fans.
"It have to mention the performance of Tomas Vaclik who helped us with his marvellous save in the right moment. And Tomas Holes played a fantastic game, he contributed to both of the goals. I have to praise both of these players.
"I think the result speaks for itself. The changes in our starting line-up proved to be the right ones. All three new players showed why they are here with us and played an excellent game."
Sky Sports' Gary Neville to ITV:
"The first Czech goal was coming... they had the Dutch on the ropes. They were punching and punching. De Boer's men wilted like you wouldn't believe... they looked really poor after the sending off. They didn't tactically adapt.
"The Czechs fully deserved it. They had more character and more personality."
On the minute that turned the game...
"Malen does so well - then he just complicates it. The goalkeeper anticipates it, knows what he's going to do. That then runs into the moment of the match...
"De Ligt looked slow and sluggish - he looked like he was going to be exposed...
"I never buy into it that you slip, that you're unlucky. You only slip as a defender when you've got your footing wrong, when you're out of position when you've misread the flight of a ball and you panic.
"He gets his footing wrong because he's misread the ball. It's a really poor bit of defending. When the first bit goes wrong, a young defender makes the second mistake. An experienced one makes the first mistake and then lets the forward go through because you've still got 11 on the pitch."
De Ligt took responsibility for his country's elimination in a candid post-match interview.
"We actually lost through my action; that feels very annoying," he told Dutch public broadcaster NOS in quotes reported by Reuters.
"It's bad. We had the game under control and then such a ball comes. I let it bounce, which was not a good decision. I got a slight push and fell, after which I handled the ball."
Asked if he was being too hard on himself, De Ligt added: "You know what, ultimately this moment changed the game, and I cannot get away from that.
"These Euros were a golden opportunity, so to depart in this way is very painful. We did well in the group stage. Then you get knocked out in the last 16 against the Czech Republic. That is very sour."
Holes became the first Czech player to both score and assist in a single match at the European Championships since both Jan Koller and Milan Baros also did so against the Netherlands at Euro 2004.
Besides his offensive contributions, the defensive midfielder nullified Frenkie de Jong, producing four tackles and regaining the ball on nine occasions - more than any of his team-mates.
Czech Republic will play Denmark in Baku on Saturday July 3 in the quarter-finals; Kick-off 5pm.
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