Koeman says Dutch 'lucky' to get away with missed chances

AP , Sunday 16 Jun 2024

Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman admitted on Sunday his side were "lucky" to not be punished for a raft of missed chances in their 2-1 win over Poland at Euro 2024.

Koeman
Netherlands head coach Ronald Koeman walks at the sideline during a Group D match between Poland and the Netherlands at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Hamburg, Germany, Sunday, June 16, 2024. AP

They trailed early on to Adam Buksa's header before levelling in the 29th minute through Cody Gakpo.

But Gakpo, Memphis Depay, Denzel Dumfries and Xavi Simons were all guilty of squandering good opportunities, before substitute Wout Weghorst grabbed an 83rd-minute winner.

"It should have been 4-1 to us after an hour. We played very well but were not able to find the net," said Koeman.

"It was dangerous for us but we were lucky and we scored a second goal... I think the final result increased our confidence today."

The Oranje came into the game full of confidence after beating both Canada and Iceland 4-0 in their pre-tournament friendlies.

Koeman insisted he would not worry too much about one off day in front of goal as his team bid to win the Netherlands' first major trophy since Euro 1988.

"We've had two friendly matches and we scored eight times," he added.

"This time we should have scored four times in an hour and that's the big difference. If we had scored you'd have said we're at the level of Germany.

"It was not 100 percent good, we should have scored before of course. I've watched a series of teams and seen some similarities, because these teams also had ball possession.

"It will be a great tournament."

The Netherlands next face title favourites France on Friday, before rounding off their Group D campaign against Austria on June 25.

Weghorst netted just two minutes after coming off the bench, while Bayer Leverkusen winger Jeremie Frimpong and Borussia Dortmund's Donyell Malen also impressed in late cameos.

"I've not been thinking of the next line-up, it's weird to think about that, we've just finished this match," Koeman said of the France clash.

"I don't know the line-up for the next match. We had to play for about an hour, then we tried with Donyell and Jeremie, fast and pacy.

"We decided we wanted to have new players like Donyell and Jeremie."

The Dutch lost twice to France in qualifying for the tournament, including a 4-0 thumping in Paris in March 2023.

"It will be a totally different match against France," conceded Gakpo. "France have more qualities than Poland, they play with a different style, spaces will be different.

"That match of course we want to win as well, we want to beat them and that will be our focus."

Netherlands fans flocked in their tens of thousands to northern Germany, turning Hamburg orange hours before kick-off.

"There were many fans, more than in Qatar (for the 2022 World Cup)," said Gakpo.

"That's great, they're here for us and we're able to face difficult times thanks to the supporters."

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