Football Features

Netherlands 2-1 Turkey: Oranje showcase power of recovery to seal Euro 2024 semi-final berth

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 22:00, 6 July 2024

The Netherlands survived a scare to reach the Euro 2024 semifinals at Turkey‘s expense. 

Vincenzo Montella’s team entered the final quarterfinal as the underdogs and were spirited on by a near-partisan crowd in Germany’s capital.

Samet Akaydın, starting in place of the suspended Merih Demiral, headed the Crescent-Stars in front, but a quick Oranje double sees them meet England in the last four.

Stefan de Vrij equalised before Mert Müldür, under pressure from Cody Gakpo, unfortunately put the ball into his net.

Having started in an unorthodox 5-4-1 formation, Turkey proved too stubborn for a hapless Dutch attack led by an out-of-form Memphis Depay.

By conceding possession, they challenged the Oranje to pass through a wall of players. Whenever any Dutch thrust forward, Turkey’s speedy teenage flankers, Kenan Yildiz and Arda Güler, pinned Virgil van Dijk and company back.

It needed Denzel Dumfries to lose concentration for their opener. The fullback initially didn’t realize the ball ricocheted off a teammate as he marshalled it out of play. From the ensuing corner that found Güler, the Inter man played Turkey onside, allowing Akaydın to break the deadlock.

Clásico aficionados would be interested to hear that two teenagers (Güler for Turkey and Lamine Yamal for Spain) have two or more assists at Euro 2024, as many as there have been in the previous 14 editions combined on record (since 1968) — Cristiano Ronaldo in 2004 (2) and Enzo Scifo (2) in 1984.

Akaydin’s goal was not only the first shot on target in this match, but it also meant Turkey has scored three goals from corners at Euro 2024, the joint-most on record for a team in a single edition (since 1980), level with Spain in 2020, France in 2016, and Portugal in 2004.

Güler, who performed stellar, came agonisingly close to doubling Turkey’s lead when his fiercely whipped free-kick glanced off the outside of Bart Verbruggen’s right post. It proved costly, as no sooner had that chance gone begging than De Vrij powered home a Depay cross from a corner.

It was a timely intervention, as De Vrij scored his first goal for the Netherlands since March 2015 (against Spain), nine years and 97 days ago. Six or so minutes later, the Dutch benefited from the first own goal at the European Championship since 2004 (Jorge Andrade vs. Portugal).

A goalline clearance from substitute Micky van de Ven and point-blank save by Bart Verbruggen denied Turkey a late equaliser. Koeman’s side held on to record Oranje’s first European Championship win after trailing at halftime since June 21, 2000, against France (five games without a win after trailing at halftime).

More importantly, the Netherlands have reached the semi-final of the European Championship for the first time since 2004. Only Spain and Germany (11 each) have scored more goals at Euro 2024 so far than the Oranje (9).