Football Features

Romania 0-3 Netherlands: Cody Gakpo joins elite company as Oranje end 36-year wait

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 19:00, 2 July 2024

The Netherlands will play Euro 2024 quarterfinal football after emerging as 3-0 winners over Romania in Munich this afternoon.

A brace from substitute Donyell Malen followed Cody Gakpo’s opener, with the Dutch now awaiting their quarterfinal opponents: either a rematch with Austria or Turkey.

Having disappointed in their last outing against Ralf Rangnick’s men, this was an opportunity to put things right. But, the scoreline was justifiable and kind to Oranje, who had no fewer than 23 shots on goal, with six on target. However, their manager will take stock of a much-needed resilient display.

Despite a promising start by Edward Iordănescu’s men, it was Oranje who broke the deadlock. They struck first through Cody Gakpo, who is fast becoming their man for the big occasion. A third goal at these championships makes him Euro 2024’s joint-top scorer. Florin Nita, though, will not want to remember the Liverpool forward’s latest effort. Gakpo took a touch inside right-back Andrei Ratiu, and the angle is on for the strike, but you have to say, Nita should do better at his near post. As it was, the ball squirmed between the post and the goalkeeper.

Cody Gakpo subsequently netted his sixth goal in 10 appearances at major tournaments for the Netherlands (three at the 2022 World Cup, three at Euro 2024). He becomes the third player to score three or more goals at two different major tournaments for the Dutch, along with Johnny Rep (1974 and 1978 World Cups) and Dennis Bergkamp (Euro 1992, 1994, and 1998 World Cups). Among European players, only Kylian Mbappé (nine in 10 games) has scored more goals across the last two major tournaments (2022 World Cup, Euro 2024) than Gakpo (six in nine games).

Momentum quickly swung in Koeman’s side’s favour as they dominated possession until halftime. In a 25-minute spell, they really should have doubled their advantage, especially from set plays. Only Sweden (vs. Italy at Euro 2000) has had more first-half corners in a European Championship match than the Netherlands against Romania today (10) on record (since 1980). However, the Tricolours’ backline stood resolute, with no one illustrating their fighting spirit more than Radu Dragusin.

Koeman’s men huffed and puffed, but a second goal never looked forthcoming. Gakpo even had a one disallowed for offside until the aforementioned Dragusin made a crucial error. Gakpo showed perseverance to keep the ball from going out of bounds superbly, beating Dragusin before picking out Malen, who buried it from close range. No one wanted to make amends for the Austria loss more than Malen, who registered his second in stoppage time. After latching onto a neat ball from Xavi Simons, he countered with lightning-quick pace, cutting inside before finding the bottom corner.

Malen became the first player to score two goals in a game at Euro 2024 and the first substitute to score a brace at the European Championships since Savo Milošević at Euro 2000 for Yugoslavia against Slovenia.

The result also had some historical significance as the Netherlands have progressed from a UEFA European Championship knockout match for the first time since the 2004 quarterfinal against Sweden (0–0, won on penalties). Excluding penalties, it’s their first win in a knockout game since beating Yugoslavia 6–1 in 2000 and, more incredibly, their first knockout stage win in regulation time on foreign soil since the Euro 1988 final, which also took place in Munich.