Netherlands fail to qualify for Euro 2016; Turkey advance with win
The Netherlands squandered its last chance of reaching the playoffs for next year’s European Championship in a humiliating 3-2 defeat by 10-man Czech Republic on Tuesday.
The Dutch knew only victory would do in the Amsterdam Arena and even then they needed third-placed Turkey to lose to Iceland to clinch third place themselves and a playoff spot in Group A.
”You have to look to the future now,” coach Danny Blind said. ”This is very disappointing for the players, for me, for the Netherlands but we have to look ahead and the new goal is qualifying for (the World Cup in) Russia.”
Goals from Pavel Kaderabek and Josef Sural, however, put the Czech Republic 2-0 up inside half an hour and while the visitors were reduced to 10 men when Marek Suchy was sent off before halftime, Holland failed to capitalize.
Instead, Robin van Persie, on as a substitute in the 38th minute, headed home an own goal to put the result beyond doubt, before Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Van Persie scored late consolations. It is the first time Holland have failed to qualify for a major tournament since they missed the 2002 World Cup and attention will swiftly turn to the future of head coach Danny Blind.
The Royal Dutch Football Association insisted the 54-year-old would remain in charge regardless of the team’s fate but pressure is sure to mount, with Southampton boss Ronald Koeman a potential alternative. Blind’s side began with the gusto of a team who believed and Anwar El Ghazi should have opened the scoring within 40 seconds when he was slid in down the right-hand side, but he drilled straight at the keeper when he had time to carry the ball closer.
The Czechs struggled to gain a foothold and they were spared again soon after when El Ghazi’s low cross found the incoming Wesley Sneijder, but he ballooned the ball over the crossbar. As threatening as they were going forward, Holland were jittery at the back as goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet fumbled the ball amidst a crowd of players and was relieved to see Theodor Gebre Selassie prod over from close range.
The warning signs went unheeded, however, as the Czechs stunned the home crowd by breaking the deadlock in the 24th minute as a neat flick from Suchy allowed Jiri Skalak to feed Kaderabek, who lifted the ball past Zoet at the near post. There was worse to come for the home side, whose defensive frailties were again exposed 11 minutes later when a simple throw-in found its way to Sural, who ghosted past Virgil van Dijk before poking the ball into the net for a two-goal lead.
Immediately, Van Persie was thrown into the fray and hopes of a comeback increased when Suchy was sent off just before the break, after bringing down Memphis Depay when the forward appeared to be in on goal. Instead, however, it was the Czechs who piled on the misery in the second period as Van Persie, on to inspire a fightback, killed it off in the 66th minute when his cushioned header back flew straight past Zoet for an own goal.
There was a late rally as Huntelaar powered home a header and then Van Persie went some way to making amends with a close-range finish. But it was too little, too late and as news filtered through that Turkey had snatched a late victory against Iceland, the Dutch knew their time was finally up.
Blind insisted he would not be quitting, despite losing three of his four matches in charge and missing qualification. ”I am confident in myself,” Blind said after the defeat.
Turkey sealed their progression as Selcuk Inan’s late winner snatched a 1-0 win against Iceland.
The victory ensured Turkey finished ahead of Holland in Group A and they also avoid the lottery of the playoffs, going through automatically as the competition’s best third-placed team. Sides coming third have their points gained against the bottom-placed team removed, which proved beneficial for Turkey, who managed only two points against last-placed Latvia.
Turkey needed only a point in Konya to see off Holland, who lost 3-2 at home to the Czech Republic, but they went two better as Inan’s stunning free-kick in the 89th minute snatched a dramatic victory. It means Turkey sidestep the playoffs, where they were beaten in 2011 by Croatia and missed out on Euro 2012.
The campaign has been unspectacular, however, for Fatih Terim’s side, who have drawn twice with Latvia and lost to the group’s top two, the Czech Republic and Iceland. The final match seemed likely to end in anti-climax as well, as a dreary contest headed towards a goalless draw before Turkey’s Gokhan Tore was sent off with 12 minutes remaining for a nasty challenge on Jon Dadi Bodvarsson.
Iceland, however, perhaps distracted having already sealed progress, never looked like capitalising and instead it was Inan who grabbed the winner, curling the ball into the top corner from 25 yards with one minute left.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.