The Netherlands have confirmed their top spot finish in Euro 2020 Group C after Georginio Wijnaldum’s brace paved the way for the win over courageous North Macedonia at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam on Monday.
North Macedonia started highly motivated into the encounter and thought they got rewarded in the 9th minute, but Ivan Trickovski’s goal was flagged offside.
The Dutchman haven’t clicked to gear whereas North Macedonia kept it going and rattled the woodwork with 22 minutes gone when Aleksandar Trajkovski unleashed a hammer from the edge of the box.
Despite a lot of action in front of the host’s goal, the opener was scored at the other end of the pitch as Memphis Depay finished off a counterattack via Donyell Malen in the 24th minute.
Denzel Dumfries should have doubled the advantage at the half hour mark, but the PSV Einhoven player wasn’t able to overcome onrushing North Macedonia goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski.
The Dutch needed no warmup time in the second half as Trickovski had to clear Matthijs de Ligt’s header off target. North Macedonia’s defense was hapless though moments later as Depay’s good build-up work allowed Wijnaldum to make the lead to two in the 51st minute.
The Netherlands gained momentum and to make things worse for Igor Angelovski’s side, they tripled their lead seven minutes later after Wijnaldum tapped home Depay’s rebound to wrap up his brace.
Three minutes later, Wijnaldum missed the chance to make it four, but the attacking midfielder pulled Depay’s square pass over the target at the hour mark.
North Macedonia remained dangerous and had another goal ruled offside in the closing stages when Darko Churlinov beat goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
“We defended here and there a bit sloppy and helped North Macedonia to get back into the game. In the second half we were a bit more aggressive, and they didn’t get any more chances,” The Netherlands head coach Frank de Boer said.
With the win, the Netherlands finish atop the standings in Group C with nine points followed by Austria (6 points), Ukraine (3 points) and North Macedonia (0 points).
XINHUA | AMSTERDAM