Netherlands Clinches Euro 2024 with Weghorst's Early Goal Against Ireland
Wout Weghorst's early goal secured the Netherlands a place at Euro 2024, as they defeated Ireland 1-0 at the Johan Cruyff Arena on Saturday, finishing second in Group B.
Weghorst's dynamic run from just inside the Irish half led to a powerful strike into the roof of the net after 12 minutes, setting the Dutch on course for qualification. The victory brought the Netherlands to 15 points, securing their Euro 2024 berth, with France topping the group.
Despite several regulars missing due to injuries, Ronald Koeman's team dominated the game, creating numerous half-chances. However, they were unable to extend their lead, despite persistent efforts from the attacking force, led by Cody Gakpo.
In the 52nd minute, Tijani Reijnders had a shot deflected onto the upright, and Irish goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu made brave blocks to deny Dutch attempts at goal.
Ireland believed they had equalized in the 65th minute when Adam Idah's shot crossed the line, confirmed by goal-line technology. However, VAR ruled Idah offside when receiving the ball, denying the Irish a goal.
For Ireland, finishing with six points after six defeats in eight matches, it marked the end of a challenging campaign. The match is expected to be the last competitive outing for manager Stephen Kenny, with Ireland playing a friendly against New Zealand on Tuesday.
The Netherlands, despite facing injuries, showcased resilience, earning praise from captain Virgil van Dijk. Van Dijk expressed hope for the swift return of injured players like Frenkie de Jong and Memphis Depay, emphasizing the team's potential for a successful European Championship.
"I think we can be proud of ourselves," said Van Dijk. "With all the injuries, we put on a good show." He added, "Hopefully, the boys who are now injured can get fit, and then it can be a great European Championship."