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Euro 2020: Netherlands Sink Northern Ireland

Netherlands’ Luuk de Jong (L) and Memphis Depay celebrate at the end of the UEFA Euro 2020 group C qualifying football match between the Netherlands and Northern Ireland in Rotterdam on October 10, 2019. Maurice van STEEN / ANP / AFP

 

Luuk de Jong and Memphis Depay inspired the Netherlands’ thrilling fightback as they scored three times in the last 10 minutes to seal a dramatic 3-1 win over Northern Ireland in Thursday’s Euro 2020 qualifier.

Ronald Koeman’s side were in danger of a shock defeat when Josh Magennis put the visitors ahead at De Kuip.

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But the Feyenoord Stadium has been a fortress for the Netherlands and they have now won their last 17 games at the venue.

Memphis Depay sparked the dramatic finale with his 80th minute equaliser and De Jong bagged the crucial second in stoppage-time.

There was still time for Depay to strike again to complete the remarkable comeback.

The Netherlands sit top of Group C in the race to qualify for next year’s European Championships.

They are ahead of second placed Germany and third placed Northern Ireland, with all three teams having 12 points.

Significantly, the Netherlands and Germany have played one game less than Northern Ireland.

Koeman’s men will visit Windsor Park to face Northern Ireland again in November.

Koeman had warned his players to be wary of Northern Ireland’s “fighting machines”.

And Michael O’Neill’s side did everything in their power to claim a famous upset before running out of steam in the final minutes.

Kyle Lafferty, who is yet to score for Norwegian club Sarpsborg since joining in August, led the attack for Northern Ireland.

Lafferty was tasked with breaking down a Dutch defence anchored by Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk and he caused them some uncomfortable moments with his relentless pressing.

The Dutch were struggling to find any rhythm and when Ryan Babel teed up Georginio Wijnaldum, his shot was well blocked by Stuart Dallas, with Daley Blind blazing wide from the follow-up.

Northern Ireland kept up their defiant rearguard action as Steven Bergwijn’s shot was blocked by Jonny Evans.

By the time Wijnaldum shanked well over from Depay’s pass soon after the interval, it was clear Koeman’s team were growing frustrated.

Koeman sent on Donyell Malen and Donny van de Beek midway through the half in a bid to prise open the Irish defence.

Wijnaldum had an acrobatic strike hacked off the line by Leicester defender Evans.

However, it was Northern Ireland who snatched the shock lead against the run of play in the 75th minute.

When the Dutch made a hash of clearing, Dallas worked space on the touchline to loft a cross towards Magennis.

With Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt caught under the ball, Hull striker Magennis rose highest to head home from close-range.

But Depay came to the Netherlands’ rescue 10 minutes from full-time when the Lyon forward calmly slotted home from Malen’s pass.

Suddenly, the hosts were rampant and their pressure was rewarded in stoppage-time as De Jong poked home from virtually on the goal-line.

It was a heart-breaking moment for Northern Ireland and Depay finished them off when he rolled in his second goal off the post.

AFP

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