Netherlands get Euro 2024 qualifying campaign back on track with 3-0 win over Gibraltar.

The Netherlands responded to their thrashing in France by beating 10-man Gibraltar 3-0, as Nathan Aké scored the first brace of his entire career, finally helping to get the Oranje’s UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying campaign up and running at Feyenoord’s De Kuip.

Despite being ranked 200th in the world, the British Overseas Territory were surprisingly above their illustrious opponents in Group B after the opening round of fixtures, having only lost 3-0 to Greece, making them a goal better off than Ronald Koeman’s men after their pasting in Paris. The former Barcelona boss himself pledged before kick-off that the hosts would be looking to score “as many goals as possible” in Rotterdam, and it wasn’t all that surprising to see the Euro ’88 winners monopolise possession from the outset.

After a number of half-chances for the Dutch, the deadlock was eventually broken on 23 minutes, as Denzel Dumfries put in the best of several teasing deliveries. Both Dayle Coleing and 40-year-old captain Roy Chipolina hesitated to clear their lines, and Memphis Depay capitalised by nodding home to palpable sighs of relief among the home supporters.

Wout Weghorst and Georginio Wijnaldum had chances to extend the lead before half-time, but Julio César Ribas would have been pleased with his side’s organisation in the face of significant pressure. Koeman introduced Donyell Malen and Cody Gakpo at the break, and the Liverpool forward played a part in the second goal on 50 minutes. The 23-year-old’s cross was diverted by ex-Abingdon United defender Jayce Olivero into the path of Dumfries, who calmly fed the unmarked Aké for the centre-back to head in off Coleing’s left-hand post.

It went from bad to worse for Gibraltar less than 10 seconds after the restart, as Liam Walker’s sense of touch deserted him, and the midfielder mistimed his challenge on Mats Wieffer horribly in an attempt to recover the situation, leading to referee Morten Krogh brandishing a straight red card. Chipolina did well to clear Weghorst’s header off the line before a slipping Aké added a deflected third late on, giving this so-called ‘contest’ the type of one-sided scoreline universally predicted before kick-off.

Tiny Gibraltar’s next exercise in futility sees them host 2022 World Cup runners up France in June, three days before travelling to Dublin. As for the Netherlands, that month will surely bring a sterner test, as they face Croatia in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals – four years after falling at the final hurdle in the competition’s inaugural staging.

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