Romania 0-3 Netherlands: Ronald Koeman’s side set up quarter-final with Austria or Turkey as Donyell Malen nets late brace to add to Cody Gakpo first-half strike

On the eve of this clash, Cody Gakpo spoke about how the Netherlands were approaching this clash against Romania as the start of a ‘new tournament.’

This was a performance – their best this tournament – that backed up those comments, not least by Gakpo himself who got a goal and an assist in what was an utterly dominant Dutch display.

Not since 2008 have they reached the quarter-final stage of the Euros but after scraping through as one of the four best third-placed sides, it was Gakpo who inspired them to a last-eight date with either Austria or Turkey on Saturday night.

For an under-pressure Ronald Koeman, perhaps more importantly, this was a performance that was good on the eye and one that will ease up the pressure from the Dutch media, who have not held back since their defeat to Austria a week ago.

Koeman admitted that aspects of that performance were a ‘disgrace’ and came into this tie knowing that a defeat against a Romanian side, ranked 47th in the world, would all but signal the end of his time as head coach of the national team.

The Netherlands have booked their place in the <a href=Euro 2024 quarters after beating Romania” class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%”>

The Netherlands have booked their place in the Euro 2024 quarters after beating Romania

Donyell Malen (bottom left) wheels in celebration after scoring the Dutch's second goal

Donyell Malen (bottom left) wheels in celebration after scoring the Dutch’s second goal

Cody Gakpo does brilliantly to keep the ball in play before pulling it back for Malen to score

Cody Gakpo does brilliantly to keep the ball in play before pulling it back for Malen to score

Malen bagged another goal in added time to make it three for the Dutch on the night

Malen bagged another goal in added time to make it three for the Dutch on the night

Malen broke away on a counter attack before sending Nita the wrong way with a powerful shot

Malen broke away on a counter attack before sending Nita the wrong way with a powerful shot

The goal seals the win for the Netherlands and dumps a spirited Romania side out of <a href=Euro 2024” class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%”>

The goal seals the win for the Netherlands and dumps a spirited Romania side out of Euro 2024

Ronald Koeman's men celebrate with their supporters at the end of the game in Munich

Ronald Koeman’s men celebrate with their supporters at the end of the game in Munich

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MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS

ROMANIA: (4-1-4-1) Nita 6; Ratiu 5, Dragusin 7, Burca 5, Mogos 5 (Racovitan 38, 5); M Marin 5 (Cicaldau 72, 5); Man 5, R Marin 5, Stanciu 6 (Olaru 88), Hagi 5 (Alibec 72, 5); Dragus 5 (Mihaila 72)

Subs not used: Moldovan (GK), Tarnovanu (GK); Rus, Nedelcearu, Puscas, Sorescu, Birligea, Sut

Goals: None

Bookings: Marin (67), Stanciu (81)

Coach: Edward Iordanescu 5

 

NETHERLANDS: (4-2-3-1) Verbruggen 7; Dumfries 8, De Vrij 7, Van Dijk 7, Ake 7 (Van de Ven 69, 6); Schouten 6 (Veerman 69, 6), Reijnders 7; Bergwijn 5 (Malen 45, 7), Simons 8, Gakpo 9 (Weghorst 84); Depay 7 (Blind 92)

Subs not used: Bijlow (GK), Flekken (GK); Geertruida, de Ligt, Wijnaldum, Frimpong, Brobbey, Maatsen, Zirkzee, Gravenberch

Goals: Gakpo (20), Malen (83, 90+3)

Bookings: Dumfries (78), Malen (90+4)

Coach: Ronald Koeman 7

 

Referee: Felix Zwayer (Germany) 6

Venue: Munich Football Arena (Munich)

Attendance: 65,012

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It was back in 1988 that a Dutch side including Koeman won the Euros – their only major trophy to date – just six miles away from the Allianz Arena at the now-abandoned Olympic Stadium.

So it was fitting that thousands of Dutch fans who descended on the Bavarian capital made that journey by foot via their fan march that has become one of the sights and sounds of this tournament.

Koeman called on his players to invoke the spirit of that 1988 squad and his men will now head to Berlin with a spring in their step, determined to make history.

He made three changes from their defeat to Austria with Denzel Dumfries, Steven Bergwijn and Xavi Simons all coming in.

For Edward Iordanescu’s Romania, this has already been a summer to remember but this was ultimately a step too far.

He made two changes with the wonderfully named Dennis Man coming in on the right flank which allowed the son of Gheorghe Hagi, Ianis, to start on the left flank.

Hagi Sr had predicted before the tournament that Romania could make the last four and the Tricolorii flew out of the blocks, buoyed on by a sea of yellow.

Behind the Dutch goal, a banner was unfurled by the Romanian fans saying ‘Dam Totul Pana La Final’ which translated to ‘I give everything until the final’ and so they did but against the run of play, the Dutch took the lead in the 20th minute. Simons found Gakpo down the left and the Liverpool man cut in onto his right foot before firing past Florin Nita at the near post.

The Romanian keeper should have done better but it took nothing away from the power of the strike as Gakpo got his third goal of the tournament, going level with Georges Mikautadze, Jamal Musiala and Ivan Schranz as joint top-scorer.

Now the Dutch were flowing and spraying the ball with confidence and it took a goal-saving tackle from Radu Dragusin to deny Memphis Depay a tap in after Dumfries had got in behind the Romanian backline.

Gakpo gave the Netherlands the lead in the 20th minute with a strike from 25 yards out

Gakpo gave the Netherlands the lead in the 20th minute with a strike from 25 yards out

The Liverpool forward cut in from the left hand side before firing a shot at the near post

The Liverpool forward cut in from the left hand side before firing a shot at the near post

Gakpo smashes a shot towards the near post, which manages to squeeze past Romania's Nita

Gakpo smashes a shot towards the near post, which manages to squeeze past Romania’s Nita

Gakpo's shot squirms through Florin Nita's gloves at the near post on Tuesday evening

Gakpo’s shot squirms through Florin Nita’s gloves at the near post on Tuesday evening

Gakpo celebrates with his Netherlands team-mates after breaking the deadlock in the first half

Gakpo celebrates with his Netherlands team-mates after breaking the deadlock in the first half

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Romania’s Vasile Mogos suffered a nasty blow and was forced off just before the break as the Dutch took control of the game and they really should have had a second in the 43rd minute. 

It was Dumfries again, this time dispossessing the substitute Bogdan Racovitan but Simons failed to convert from inside the box.

By now, the Dutch were all over Romania with a staggering ten corners in the first half alone but a rare Virgil Van Dijk error allowed Denis Dragus to get Romania’s only shot on target.

Koeman replaced Steven Bergwijn with Donyell Malen at half-time and it was more of the same as the Dutch peppered the Romanian goal but failed to get a second.

First, Tijani Reijnders went on a powering run but his effort was blocked denying him a goal of the tournament contender before Memphis Depay and Malen wasted golden opportunities.

Minutes later, Van Dijk’s header hit the post and then Gakpo’s strike was put behind for a corner by Nita.

On the hour mark, Gakpo thought he had put the game to bed but his goal was ruled out by VAR for offside.

By now, it was getting silly and when substitute Joey Veerman’s side-footed effort went inches wide after he was teed up by Simons, Koeman could hardly hide his disbelief.

It would have been a nice moment for Veerman after he was hooked off just 35 minutes into that defeat to Austria but any nerves were finally calmed with eight minutes to go when Gakpo did superbly to set up Malen, who steered into a free net.

On the touchline, Koeman lifted his arms and breathed a sigh of relief.

Xavi Simons (No 7) tries his luck at Romania's goal but his effort is closed down by defenders

Xavi Simons (No 7) tries his luck at Romania’s goal but his effort is closed down by defenders

Romania survive a Netherlands attack which saw the ball pinball in the box before being saved

Romania survive a Netherlands attack which saw the ball pinball in the box before being saved

Gakpo thought he doubled the Netherlands' lead by prodding the ball into the roof of the net

Gakpo thought he doubled the Netherlands’ lead by prodding the ball into the roof of the net

However, Gakpo's goal was ruled out by VAR shortly after to leave the score still at 1-0

However, Gakpo’s goal was ruled out by VAR shortly after to leave the score still at 1-0

Radu Dragusin and Bogdan Racovitan jump with Stefan de Vrij and Nathan Ake for the ball

Radu Dragusin and Bogdan Racovitan jump with Stefan de Vrij and Nathan Ake for the ball

Virgil van Dijk heads the ball away as Netherlands make it tough for Romania to break through

Virgil van Dijk heads the ball away as Netherlands make it tough for Romania to break through

Behind the Dutch goal, the army of orange began to bounce and Malen put the icing on the cake finishing after a wonderful Dutch counter to make it three.

For Romania, that wait for a knockout round win since Pasadena in 1994 goes on but they can look back at this tournament with plenty of pride.

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