The Czech Republic reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 with a surprise 2-0 win over the Netherlands, who had Matthijs de Ligt sent off.
A close game in Budapest swung the way of Jaroslav Silhavy’s men 55 minutes in when De Ligt was dismissed for a deliberate handball that prevented Patrik Schick from having a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Tomas Holes then headed in the opening goal before superbly setting up Schick for the second as the Czech Republic progressed to the last eight, where they face Denmark.
The majority of the Netherlands’ first-half threat came through the forward runs of Denzel Dumfries, the right-back posing a real danger down the right but unable to provide for Memphis Depay and Donyell Malen.
The best of the first-half chances fell to Antonin Barak, who was teed up by Lukas Masopust but saw his effort from six yards out just blocked over the bar by De Ligt.
Malen carved out a brilliant opening to break the deadlock, driving his way through the Czech Republic defence only to see Tomas Vaclik take the ball from his feet as he tried to round the goalkeeper.
Moments later, De Ligt misjudged a bouncing ball and hooked it away from Schick with his hand as he fell, leading referee Sergey Karasev to send off the centre-back after a VAR review.
Pavel Kaderabek had a great chance when Schick missed a header, but Dumfries made a superb block in front of keeper Maarten Stekelenburg, the Netherlands suddenly on the ropes.
The breakthrough came with a little over 20 minutes left, Holes heading into the net after Tomas Kalas nodded the ball back across the box, with Stekelenburg caught out of position.
Frank de Boer introduced Wout Weghorst in a bid to find an equaliser, but Schick put the game beyond doubt with a slick low finish after Holes drove through a gap between Georginio Wijnaldum and Dumfries before cutting the ball back.
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Since winning the tournament in 1988, the Netherlands have now progressed from just two of their eight knockout matches at this tournament.
Their positive form in the group stage took some by surprise but they did little to suggest they could respond to the setback of De Ligt’s dismissal, managing no shots on target throughout.
Holes digs deep
Holes was outstanding throughout, his work rate underlined by his eagerness to chase a loose ball and drive into the box to set up the second goal.
He became the first Czech player to score and assist in a Euros game since Jan Koller and Milan Baros 17 years ago, also against the Netherlands.
Dutch undone by De Ligt slip
After a brilliant block to deny Barak in the first half, it was unfortunate that it was De Ligt’s misjudgement that proved fatal to his side’s chances.
De Boer’s men could not react to losing their key centre-back, and it was unsurprising that the opening goal came from the sort of set-piece routine the Juventus defender would normally have cleared.
Key Opta Facts
– The Netherlands are the first side to win 100 per cent of their group games (3/3) before losing in 90 minutes in the first knockout round since the Dutch themselves at Euro 2008 (1-3 versus Russia).
– The Czech Republic have won five of their past seven games against the Netherlands, including both of their meetings in this run that came at the European Championship (3-2 at Euro 2004 and 2-0 here).
– The Czech Republic won their first game in the knockout stages of a major competition since Euro 2004, when they won 3-0 against Denmark in the quarter-final.
– Schick scored his fourth goal in four games at Euro 2020, with only Milan Baros (five) now having scored more major tournament goals than him for the Czech Republic.
– De Ligt was the first player to be sent off at the European Championship for the Netherlands since John Heitinga in 2004 (also versus the Czech Republic), while the Juventus man (21y 319d) is now the fourth-youngest player to receive a red card in the tournament.
The Czech Republic will face Denmark in Baku next Saturday.
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