France, which dominated Gibraltar with a 14-0 scoreline in the Euro Cup qualifiers. Hoffenheim’s on-loan Burnley striker, whose decisive goal in Dublin in September set Ireland on an uphill battle, replicated his success in Amsterdam, securing a 1-0 victory that was more comprehensive than the scoreline indicated. Consequently, the Dutch secured the second spot in the Group.
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Stephen Kenny's team, having won only six of the 29 competitive games under his management, struggled to contend with the vastly superior Dutch side under the closed roof at Johan Cruyff Arena. Despite their hopes of challenging one of Europe's traditional powerhouses, Ireland failed to make a significant impact.
Any lingering aspirations of securing a play-off berth through the UEFA Nations League were definitively dashed by Slovakia's 4-2 victory over Iceland on Friday (AEDT), with automatic qualification slipping away long before. Kenny’s contract is set to conclude after the friendly against New Zealand at Aviva Stadium on Wednesday.
Critical Moments of Euro Cup Uncertain Futures Ireland Struggles Against the Netherlands
The anticipation of his future resolution hinges on the outcome of a review scheduled to be presented to the Football Association of Ireland's board on November 28. However, there is little expectation for an extension. In the opening minutes, Callum Robinson, making his first competitive start for his country since June last year, crafted an opportunity with a well-placed through-ball to Alan Browne.
Despite Browne's well-struck shot, it went directly at goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen. In response, the Dutch executed a more precise attack, seizing the lead just 12 minutes into the game. Weghorst's adept turn onto Stefan de Vrij's pass left Nathan Collins trailing. The striker sprinted up field, delivering a rising shot past the helpless keeper Gavin Bazunu and into the roof of the net.
Despite Ireland's efforts to regain control, a lack of penetration and occasional ball surrender in vulnerable positions hindered their progress. As Liverpool frontman Cody Gimpo showcased his skills, aided by Xavi Simons, Ireland found themselves increasingly stretched. The home defense, led by the expert marshalling of Virgil van Dijk, remained resolute as Ireland probed without success.
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Despite the Netherlands Team dominance, they failed to capitalize on their superiority, with Gakpo and Tijjani Reijnders both missing the target from a distance in quick succession. Approaching halftime, Ireland faced disarray as Gakpo and Simons repeatedly exposed vulnerabilities.
However, they managed to reach the break without further damage, partially thanks to Bazunu's crucial save from Reijnders in the 44th minute. Ireland narrowly avoided falling further behind when Simmons’s goal-bound effort from Denzel Dumfries's cross was inadvertently blocked by teammate Gimpo. Bazunu made two successive saves, denying Weghorst's instinctive strike and turning Reijnders's dipping effort onto the post.
Injuries Mount for Netherlands as Ireland Grapples with Setbacks
This prompted Kenny to substitute the isolated Ferguson with midfielder Jamie McGrath. Adam Idah thought he had levelled with 59 minutes gone when he ran on to Ryan Manning’s through ball and cut inside Van Dijk before firing in a shot which clipped the defender’s heels and squirmed through Verbruggen’s legs and across the line, although the keeper’s blushes were spared by a late offside flag.
The Dutch aggressively pressed for more goals against the visitors but lacked the necessary precision, placing themselves under unnecessary pressure as the clock wound down. Injuries added to the Netherlands aside Squad challenges as defender Jeremie Frimpong suffered an injury during training, leading to his withdrawal from the European 2024 qualifiers against the Republic of Ireland and Gibraltar.
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Jordan Teze has been called up as a replacement for the injured Bayer Leverkusen player, as confirmed by the Dutch Football Association. Additionally, Luttrell Geertruida sustained an injury in Thursday's training session, but the Feyenoord defender will remain with the squad temporarily to assess the possibility of a quick recovery before the Dutch face Ireland on Saturday.
A victory in this match will secure their place at next year's finals in Germany. Meanwhile, Kylian Mbappé played a pivotal role in France's qualification for the European Championship, scoring twice in a 2-1 win over the Netherlands, securing a perfect sixth win in Group B.
France Secures Euro 2024 Qualification with Victory Over Netherlands
Talks preceding Friday's match at the Johan Cruyff Arena centred on the 24-year-old France captain's perceived dip in form, having failed to score in four consecutive matches for Paris Saint-Germain. However, international duty swiftly ended the goal drought for Kylian Mbappé.
The French star opened the scoring in the seventh minute by beating Luttrell Geertruida to a cross from Jonathan Clauss, volleying past debutant Netherlands team goalkeeper Bert Verbruggen. This marked Mbappé's 41st international goal, placing him on par with France's great Michel Platini. In the 53rd minute, Mbappé doubled the lead by exchanging passes with Adrien Rabiot and curling a shot over Verbruggen.
Quinshay Hartman, in his first full international appearance, reduced the deficit to 2-1 for the Netherlands with a goal in the 80th minute. This was the first goal conceded by World Cup runner-up France in the qualifying group.
Despite the late goal, the Netherlands suffered their second defeat to France in qualifying, leaving them in third place behind Greece, which moved up to second after a 2-0 victory over Ireland on Friday. The Republic of Ireland faced a demoralizing evening as they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat against the Netherlands, securing Euro 2024 qualification for the latter.
Wout Weghorst's early goal was decisive for the hosts, while visiting striker Evan Ferguson, despite his impressive form for Brighton, struggled with limited possession before leaving the field due to injury.
Early Weghorst Goal Highlights Ireland Qualification of Netherlands Euro Cup Tickets
Wout Weghorst secured an early lead with his 11th-minute goal, skillfully maneuvering past Nathan Collins before delivering a powerful shot past Gavin Bazunu. However, the remainder of the evening lacked individual brilliance from both teams.
Ireland, already eliminated from Euros qualification, faced another setback in their disappointing campaign, with their sole points in Group B coming from matches against Gibraltar. Despite briefly celebrating a ball crossing the line when Adam Idah broke forward and scored past Bart Verbruggen, the goal was disallowed for a clear offside, sparing the goalkeeper's blushes. The visitors, despite having substantial possession, appeared devoid of ideas.
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Ferguson consistently probed the Dutch backline but was rarely provided with the ball before his departure. In the presence of a significant travelling crowd, Ireland was outshot 19-3 by the hosts. Weghorst, in addition to his goal, forced Bazunu's remarkable save with a well-placed first-time shot. However, aside from these instances and three more genuine chances, the Netherlands squad couldn't capitalize further.
With the first phase of the Euro 2024 qualification concluded, attention naturally shifts to the draw for next summer's tournament. The best European international teams will converge in Germany at the end of the domestic season, aspiring to claim the continent's greatest international prize.
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