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Euro 2024 - Poland 1-2 Netherlands: Former Manchester United striker Wout Weghorst scores winner with Cody Gakpo also on target

Report from Euro 2024 as Netherlands fall behind to Poland in Hamburg in opening game of Group D through Adam Buksa's glancing header before Cody Gakpo levels; Wout Weghorst comes off the bench to score a late winner; France face Austria on Monday

Wout Weghorst roars in celebration after scoring the Netherlands' second goal against Poland
Image: Wout Weghorst roars in celebration after scoring the winner

Netherlands survived an early scare to defeat Poland 2-1 in Hamburg in the opening game of Group D at Euro 2024 as former Manchester United striker Wout Weghorst came off the bench to score a late winner with his first touch.

Robert Lewandowski was absent for the Poles due to a thigh injury, but his replacement Adam Buksa filled the void to glance Michal Probierz's side in front (16) from Piotr Zielinski's corner.

Netherlands, who had already missed good chances through Tijjani Reijnders and Xavi Simons, ought to have levelled when Memphis Depay lifted his shot over the bar six minutes later - but they restored parity when Cody Gakpo's deflected shot wrong-footed Wojciech Szczesny (29).

It was the first of five attempts Gakpo had in the first half during a wasteful performance - the joint-most on record (since 1980) for a Dutch player in the first half of a match at the Euros.

Cody Gakpo celebrates after equalising for the Netherlands against Poland
Image: Cody Gakpo celebrates after equalising for the Netherlands

Team news

  • Unheralded Buksa was entrusted with leading Poland's attack in the absence of talisman Lewandowski. The 27-year-old had six goals in 18 appearances while Kacper Urbanski, 19, made his first start on the attacking flank having won his first cap in the warm-up friendlies earlier this month.
  • The Dutch, hit by injuries in the midfield, had the relatively inexperienced Tijjani Reijnders in a playmaking role with Joey Veerman behind him in the centre of their line-up but there were no surprises in coach Ronald Koeman's selection.

Poland needed the interval, but they showed more attacking intent upon the restart as Jakub Kiwior's shot took a nick off Nathan Ake and forced Bart Verbruggen to make the save, before Piotr Zielinski's attempt from 20 yards brought another smart stop from the Dutch goalkeeper.

This was a spirited Polish team but after Denzel Dumfries swept another attempt wide of the far post, it was substitute Weghorst - still a Burnley player - who scored the winner within five minutes of coming off the bench, latching onto a clever through ball from Ake to guide home his seventh goal in his last 11 appearances for the Oranje.

Bartosz Salamon fights for the ball with Memphis Depay
Image: Bartosz Salamon fights for the ball with Memphis Depay

Poland refused to give up as substitute Karol Swiderski nearly levelled when he met Jakub Piotrowski's cross to fire low towards the near post and have Verbruggen at full stretch before Piotrowski's follow-up was blazed into the side-netting but the Netherlands held on to send the tens of thousands of "Oranje" fans at Hamburg's Volksparkstadion into raptures.

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The result means the Netherlands top the group ahead of France facing Austria in the other match from the opening gameweek in Düsseldorf on Monday.

Koeman knows Dutch must play better to top group

Adam Buska celebrates after heading Poland in front against the Netherlands
Image: Adam Buska celebrates after heading Poland in front against the Netherlands

Sky Sports' Ben Grounds:

Modern-day football sometimes shuns the strapping centre forward but Netherlands super-sub Weghorst came off the bench to spare their blushes on Sunday and show the value of a number nine with a killer instinct.

There was no question that the Dutch were the dominant side against a Polish outfit who were perfectly happy to sit and wait for their moments. Yet goals win games and if the Netherlands are to go far at the tournament they will need to sharpen their knives after a largely wasteful display in Hamburg.

The Dutch started the game with a dynamic front three of Cody Gakpo, Memphis Depay and Xavi Simons who were full of running and creative interplay, carving apart the Poles and creating chance after chance.

Memphis Depay beats Nicola Zalewski to the ball
Image: Memphis Depay beats Nicola Zalewski to the ball

They had 64 per cent of possession and 20 shots on goal but apart from Gakpo's deflected effort in the 29th minute to level the scores, the opportunities came and went.

As the Netherlands' hopes of opening their Group D campaign with a victory started to fade, boss Ronald Koeman summoned Weghorst off the bench in the 81st minute, one of a number of changes he made as he looked to shift the dial in their favour.

Two minutes later, the Netherlands had the lead as Weghorst latched on to Nathan Ake's pass and rifled the ball into the back of the net left-footed.

Weghorst, who came on with the Dutch trailing 2-0 to Argentina at the 2022 World Cup to score twice, has netted with his past three shots at major tournaments. And underlining his super-sub credentials, it was the third consecutive game in which he has come off the bench to score for the Dutch.

Gakpo: We have to be more clinical

Cody Gakpo scores the Netherlands' equaliser against Poland
Image: Cody Gakpo scores the Netherlands' equaliser against Poland

Netherlands' forward Cody Gakpo: "It was a tough match, a tough opponent. They scored first, so it was a little bit more difficult, but we created a lot of good opportunities, good chances. We have to be more clinical. Overall, we performed pretty well.

"We have to analyse the game and see where we could hurt them more and then take that to the next one. I think it's a strength of our team that, even though for some it's the first time, they [the younger players] performed well."

Wout Weghorst celebrates after giving the Netherlands a 2-1 lead against Poland
Image: Weghorst scored the fastest goal by a Netherlands substitute at the European Championships, netting the winning goal of the game just two minutes and 18 seconds after coming off the bench

Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman: "Wout Weghorst was able to play and he has added value to the team, he has a different way of behaving and that is what we needed.

"This should have been 4-1 in favour of us after one hour, we played very well but couldn't finish opportunities. The Polish squad were nearly able to find the net themselves but we were lucky and scored a second goal.

"We have good qualities, the team performed well. After 60 minutes we should have been able to score more. Cody Gakpo played very well. He was dangerous and we should give him the ball more often."

Stats: Story of the match

Dutch delight - Opta stats

Wojciech Szczesny makes an early save to deny the Dutch
Image: Wojciech Szczesny makes an early save to deny the Dutch
  • Cody Gakpo has scored in all four of his group stage starts for the Netherlands at major tournaments (four goals at the World Cup/EUROs), while he's now scored in his first start at both the World Cup and European Championships.
  • Wout Weghorst scored the fastest goal by a Netherlands substitute at the European Championships, netting the winning goal of the game just two minutes and 18 seconds after coming off the bench.
  • Netherlands had 21 shots against Poland - their most in a game at a major tournament (World Cup/EUROs) since 2012 against Denmark (32).
  • Since losing all three games at EURO 2012, Netherlands have gone unbeaten in 10 straight group stage games at major tournaments (World Cup/EUROs), winning nine of those (D1).

So far in Group D...

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