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Poland 1-2 Netherlands: Weghorst rescues profligate Dutch

The Netherlands are the early table-toppers in Group D

Wout Weghorst

Wout Weghorst came off the bench to grab the winner as the Netherlands opened their Euro 2024 campaign with a hard-fought win over Poland in Hamburg.

Former Manchester United striker Weghorst swept home Nathan Ake’s ball with seven minutes to go as the Dutch finally got their reward for an enterprising display that ought to have seen them win by a greater margin.

Poland battled hard but failed to build on the 16th-minte advantage given to them by Adam Buksa, who started in place of the injured Robert Lewandowski.

Cody Gakpo equalised with a deflected shot but it looked like Ronald Koeman’s men would have to settle for a point after squandering a host of chances before Weghorst, who netted twice after coming on as a substitute against Argentina at the 2022 World Cup, proved the match winner.

Netherlands boss opening 45 minutes

The Dutch dominated the first half but a combination of poor finishing and some fine goalkeeping from Wojciech Szczesny frustrated their efforts to claim a half-time lead.

The onslaught started early with Gakpo seeing a shot saved by Juventus goalkeeper Szczesny at his near post inside two minutes.

Tijjani Reijnders then shot wide when well placed after being picked out by Jerdy Schouten.

Having spent the opening quarter of an hour on the back foot, Poland promptly went forward and opened the scoring from their first opportunity, Buksa glancing in Piotr Zielinski’s left-wing corner.

Virgil van Dijk almost equalised four minutes later with a snapshot volley while Memphis Depay ought to have done better than lash wildly over the top when well placed shortly after.

Koeman’s men were on top and it was no surprise when the leveller finally came after 29 minutes. Ake won the ball in the centre of the field before Gakpo took over, ran at the Poland defence and unleashed a low drive that clipped Bartosz Salamon and flew past Szczesny.

The Liverpool forward could have had another four minutes before the break but opted to flick Ake’s cross goalwards and only succeeded in clearing the crossbar.

Depay also should have done better in first-half stoppage time than shoot wide after being superbly picked out by Ake.

Dutch continue where they left off

The second period started in a similar vein with the Netherlands on top and Xavi Simons could have put them in front but shot wastefully wide after a swift counter attack led by the impressive Gakpo.

Poland were flagging but the introduction of Karol Swiderski and Bartosz Slisz gave them renewed energy and for 10 minutes they started to boss midfield. It only resulted in one clear chance with Bart Verbruggen getting down well to keep out Jakub Kiwior’s angled drive.

Weghorst entered the fray with nine minutes to go and silenced the Poland fans after 138 seconds with a smart finish with his left foot.

Verbruggen made a good stop to keep out Swiderski’s close-range shot as the Dutch held on to take early command of Group D.

Picture of Jon Fisher

Jon Fisher

Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.