A Memphis Depay strike and two Georginio Wijnaldum finishes made the difference in Amsterdam.
A Memphis Depay strike and two Georginio Wijnaldum finishes for the Netherlands made the difference in Group C as North Macedonia and Goran Pandev made a dignified exit from UEFA EURO 2020.
Match in brief
Already heading home, North Macedonia were determined to put on a show for what was Pandev’s 122nd (and probably last) international game, Aleksandar Trajkovski smacking a firm shot from the edge of the box against the post on 22 minutes.
However, if they were occasionally fragile in defence, the Dutch sparkled going forward. A constant menace, Donyell Malen sent Depay flying forward on the break in the 24th minute before receiving a return ball and teeing up the on-rushing No10 to complete one of the moves of the tournament with his 28th international goal.
The Netherlands turned on the style again early in the second half, Depay’s smart ball in from the left giving Wijnaldum the simple task of scoring his 24th Netherlands goal from close range. His 25th was even easier, the captain tidying away a loose ball after Stole Dimitrievski could only parry Depay’s shot into his path.
The Oranje could have scored more; Wout Weghorst hit the bar seconds after coming on for Depay, but their round of 16 opponents will be well aware that Frank de Boer’s side have plenty more goals in them.
Star of the Match: Georginio Wijnaldum (Netherlands)
“He was a proper leader on the pitch, with and without the ball, and he scored two goals.”
Aitor Karanka, UEFA Technical Observer
Igor Panevski, North Macedonia reporter
North Macedonia’s final EURO 2020 match was an emotional occasion for captain Pandev, but a third straight defeat did not take the shine off his country’s debut at a major tournament. North Macedonia had the Netherlands on their heels at times, and made a good impression throughout. They can only regret that they leave without any points. Pandev’s international career may be over, but this new generation will hope they can get back to a major finals without him one day soon.
Derek Brookman, Netherlands reporter
It was ultimately a straightforward victory for the Oranje, although North Macedonia gave them a few scares along the way. De Boer got to play both 5-3-2 and 4-3-3 formations, gave Steven Berghuis, Quincy Promes and Cody Gakpo their first EURO action, saw Wijnaldum and Memphis combine to devastating effect yet again, and maintained his side’s 100% record. All in all, a fine evening’s work – but sterner tests surely await in Budapest and maybe beyond.
Igor Angelovski, North Macedonia coach: “This is my last press conference in this capacity as my contract with North Macedonia expires on 31July. It’s been an honour to be at the helm of this team at a European Championship. We wanted to do better but no one should be disappointed because it was our debut on the big stage and all I can do is thank the players for their effort. This team made history by reaching EURO 2020 and we must thank Pandev for everything he has done for North Macedonia football. It has been a privilege to work for five and a half years with a man and a player who led by example and set the bar high for future generations.”
Frank de Boer, Netherlands coach: “I think we had some great moments during the game, but also some bad ones. During the first half we were sloppy. We left ourselves exposed on the counter. That’s something we talked about at half-time, though I think overall we can feel very positive.”
Georginio Wijnaldum, Netherlands midfielder, speaking to EURO2020.com: “It always feels great to be man of the match, but if I’m honest Frenkie [de Jong] and Memphis [Depay] deserve it more than me. They were unbelievable today. The secret [to goalscoring] is to just be in the right place. As you saw today, they were two easy goals, but you have to stand in the place where the ball will come.”
Ryan Gravenberch, Netherlands midfielder, speaking to EURO2020.com: “It feels good to have had my first start for Oranje. Especially here, in my home stadium. I’m an Amsterdammer through and through. Lots of family were in the stadium this evening. We struggled to find our way in the beginning. But we created a few good chances. In the second half we weren’t as sloppy, and eventually took control of the match.”
- Wijnaldum has become the first Netherlands player to score three goals or more at a EURO final tournament since Ruud van Nistelrooy (4) in 2004.
- Depay has now scored nine times in his last ten appearances for the Netherlands.
- The Dutch have now hit 29 goals in their last ten internationals; they have scored two or more in each of their last ten matches!
- No team has scored more goals in EURO final-tournament group games than the Netherlands’ 47; they have finished the group stage with a 100% record for the third time, having also done so at EURO 2000 and EURO 2008.
- This is the 11th time the Oranje have scored three or more goals in a EURO tournament match.
- Ryan Gravenberch (19 years and 32 days) became the third-youngest Dutchman to start a game at a major finals, after Jetro Willems (18y 71d in 2012) and Bertus de Harder (18y 142d in 1938).
- The Netherlands have only failed to score in one of their last 17 EURO group stage fixtures.
- The Oranje’s last-16 tie will take place in Budapest, which will be their first visit to Hungary since a 4-1 win at the Ferenc Puskás Stadium on 11 September 2012 in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying; that made their record in the country W4 D1 L2, all against Hungary and all in Budapest.
- North Macedonia have lost three successive matches for the first time since 2016.
- Angelovski’s side failed to score for only the second time in their last 18 internationals.
North Macedonia: Dimitrievski; S Ristovski, Velkovski, Musliu, Alioski; Ademi (Nikolov 78); Bardi (Stojanovski 78), Tričkovski (Churlinov 56), Elmas; Trajkovski (Hasani 68), Pandev (Kostadinov 69)
Netherlands: Stekelenburg; Dumfries (Berghuis 46), De Vrij (Timber 46), De Ligt, Blind, Van Aanholt; F de Jong (Gakpo 79), Wijnaldum, Gravenberch; Depay (Weghorst 66), Malen (Promes 66)