The second-half goals from Tomas Holes and Patrik Schick helped the Czechs to book a quarterfinal ticket after moving 2-0 past Frank de Boer’s side in the round of Euro 2020 last 16 at the Puskas Arena in Budapest on Sunday.
The Dutchman took the reins from the kick-off and pressed the Czechs into their territory. Netherlands’ pace caused problems for the Czech Republic but for all that Matthijs de Ligt and Denzel Dumfries lacked in accuracy in front of the target in the opening stages.
As the match progressed, Czech Republic grew in confidence and posed danger on counterattacks as Tomas Soucek’s diving header missed the target just wide in the 20th minute before Schick’s deflected attempt forced Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg into action two minutes later.
With 37 minutes gone, Czech Republic reaped the best chance of the first half as Antonin Barak’s promising shot from close range got blocked by De Ligt in the last nick of time.
The Netherlands caught a fairy tale start into the second half and should have opened the scoring, but Donyell Malen failed to beat Czech goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik in a one-on-one in the 52nd minute.
The momentum of the game changed though moments later as De Ligt was sent off for a handball and weakened the Dutch. The Czechs immediately utilized their numerical advantage and snatched the opener through Holes, who nodded home a flicked-on set piece with 68 minutes played.
Frank de Boer’s men pressed frenetically for the equalizer, but they got caught flatfooted by clinical Schick, whose fourth goal of the tournament sealed the deal with ten minutes remaining.
With the win, the Czechs will clash with Denmark in the quarterfinals on Saturday while the Dutch travel back home.
“The goals we gave away, the chances we didn’t take; all that goes through your head. After the red card we found it difficult to put them under pressure. Things just got more difficult for us,” Netherland’s captain Georginio Wijnaldum said.
“No one was expecting us to reach the quarterfinals. We are super happy. We do not have a lot of stars in our team, but we had the team spirit. Of course, De Ligt’s dismissal was crucial and made things a lot of easier for us,” Czech Republic striker Schick said.
XINHUA | BUDAPEST