Weghorst reprises super sub role to offer Netherlands plan B at Euros

AFP , Monday 17 Jun 2024

Wout Weghorst was selected for the Netherlands Euro 2024 squad to offer something "different", and the striker came off the bench to grab his team an opening 2-1 win over Poland when they had run out of ideas.

Super sub: Wout Weghorst was the Netherlands hero against Poland (AFP)

Two years ago, the 31-year-old scored twice, including a dramatic 101st-minute equaliser from a clever free-kick, in the Oranje's World Cup quarter-final against Argentina.

The Dutch suffered an agonising defeat on penalties that night in Qatar, but Weghorst reprised his role as 'super sub' against Poland on Sunday to great effect.

After the Netherlands were guilty of a slew of missed chances, the giant forward swept home a cultured left-foot finish just two minutes after coming off the bench, sending the tens of thousands of Dutch supporters in Hamburg into raptures.

Weghorst has now played 46 minutes as a replacement this month across three international matches including 4-0 friendly wins over Canada and Iceland, scoring in every game.

"He brings an added value to the team, he has a different way of playing, and that's great," coach Ronald Koeman told a post-match press conference.

"Wout is aggressive, he always takes the initiative, and is great in the air as well.

"He gets one scoring opportunity and he always finds the net, and that's brilliant. We have a different way of playing with different players."

Weghorst has scored only two Premier League goals in 37 appearances for his parent club Burnley and during a loan spell at Manchester United.

But he has a strong goalscoring record in Germany, having scored 70 goals across a four-year spell at Wolfsburg before netting seven last season while on loan at Hoffenheim.

Koeman admitted it has been difficult to leave Weghorst out of the starting XI.

"When I spoke to Wout when I called him up for the national team, I tried to explain that we need a different type of player. He was a little bit upset (that he might not start), but I think that's a good reaction," he added.

"Wout was upset and he is doing a lot to get the opportunity to start.

"That's a great mentality from the player, but the final decision is always made by the coach."

- Weghorst has 'English qualities' -

Koeman opted for a dynamic front three of Cody Gakpo, who scored the equaliser, Memphis Depay and Xavi Simons against Poland.

The Netherlands may expect to have less of the ball, though, when they face tournament favourites France on Friday and Koeman admitted Weghorst's more physical attributes could be useful at some point in Germany.

"I think every team needs 'Dutch qualities' and also 'English qualities' that make the team stronger -- of course he could start," said Koeman.

"He started in other games and he did really well, and that's an option.

"We will see what the best is for the team, not what the best is for the player."

Weghorst has now netted at the last three major tournaments, having also scored in a victory against Ukraine at Euro 2020.

"I am very happy. This is indescribable, especially at a major finals," said Weghorst.

"So special. This is personally a dream scenario.

"This is so important, to keep the good feeling going. This is just very nice for all of us. The ultimate goal is to win that cup together."

The Netherlands have not lifted a major trophy in 36 years, but will have high hopes of at least reaching a first Euros quarter-final since 2008 after Weghorst got them off to a strong start.

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