Sunday, December 5, 2021

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Euro 2020: Netherlands, Belgium into last 16

The Netherlands booked their spot in last 16 at Euro 2020 as they saw off Austria in Amsterdam to win Group C with a game to spare.

The Dutch, who beat Ukraine in their opening fixture, look to be hitting their stride as they outclassed the visitors in front of 12,000 fans at the Johan Cruyff Arena.

Lyon forward Memphis Depay put the hosts ahead from the spot after David Alaba brought down flying wing-back Denzel Dumfries, who capped a fine performance by adding the second from a swift break in the second half.

After failing to qualify for the past two major tournaments, Frank de Boer’s side are into the knockout stages at the European Championship for the first time since 2008.

The Netherlands will await the third-placed finisher from either Group D, E or F in the next round.

Earlier, Belgium needed their ‘X factor’ substitutions to guide them against Denmark and book their place in the last 16 of Euro 2020.

They were nowhere near their best against Denmark – but Kevin de Bruyne set up one and scored the other for a crucial 2-1 win.

The top-ranked side in the world were deservedly behind at the break on an emotional evening as 25,000 fans at Parken Stadium paid tribute to Christian Eriksen, who is recovering from a cardiac arrest.

De Bruyne came on at half-time and turned the game around, in his first appearance since suffering a fractured nose and eye socket in May’s Champions League final loss to Chelsea.

He set up the equaliser with a brilliant and unselfish touch to beat two defenders before laying the ball on a plate for Thorgan Hazard.

De Bruyne then fired in an excellent winner after a nice pass from fellow star substitute Eden Hazard, Thorgan’s brother.

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