Netherlands into quarters as Malen double inspires win over Romania

Netherlands booked their place in the Euro 2024 quarter-finals, despite missing a hatful of chances, with a 3-0 win over Romania in Munich.

Ronald Koeman’s side had 23 attempts on the night, but it was a fine Cody Gakpo’s strike in the first half and a late double from half-time substitute Donyell Malen that sealed their place in the last-eight.

Romania had approached their first knockout game since Euro 2000 with no fear. Their energy and positivity meant the Dutch had been forced to drop deep by the 10-minute mark. It was only a fleeting period of nervousness, though.

Cody Gakpo races away to celebrate his opening goal for Netherlands against Romania
Cody Gakpo races away to celebrate Netherlands’ opening goal against Romania

Gakpo has been the Dutch talisman of late and he added his third of the tournament when he took a touch inside Andrei Ratiu and hit a crisp strike that beat goalkeeper Florin Nita at his near post.

As a result, he became just the third player to score three or more goals at two different major tournaments for the Netherlands, along with Johnny Rep and Dennis Bergkamp.

Stefan de Vrij then headed inexplicably wide from close-range, before Radu Dragusin’s well-timed slide took Denzel Dumfries’ square ball away from the feet of Memphis Depay. and Xavi Simons dallied when in a prime position to shoot.

It should have been 2-0 or 3-0 at the break – and the wastefulness continued after it. Romania survived an almighty scramble shortly after the restart, before Virgil van Dijk’s header glanced the post and Gakpo was denied a second by VAR after straying offside when he poked in Malen’s knock-on.

Depay then struck a free-kick inches past the left-hand post, before Joey Veerman slid a shot agonisingly across the face of goal – but they finally got the decisive second when Gakpo kept the ball alive on the byline and squared for Malen, who could not miss.

And the impressive Malen added the gloss with the final action of the match, latching onto Simons’ neat ball, chopping inside Razvan Marin and finding the bottom corner.

Stats: Story of the match

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