Budapest was a sea of orange – the Dutch fans travelled to Hungary with a festive mood thinking that Holland would progress and fulfil the expectations, but they, perhaps, undermined the patience and fighting qualities of the Czech Republic, who stunned Holland and their passionate fans in a high voltage contest.

The attacking intent of the Dutch was evident as soon as the match commenced.

They tore down the left flank and Malen had produced a delicate cross towards the back post. Denzel Dumfries was arriving unmarked but it was fractionally too long for him.

The Dutch were setting the tempo by pressing very high when the Czechs have the ball and popping it about quickly when they get it.

A tricky faint by Memphis Depay took him past one defender. Then he tried to scamper past another and towards the box, but the Czechs converge on him quickly to crowd him out.

The Dutch took a corner short, pulling it to Blind, who arrowed a lovely cross towards the back post. Matthijs De Light outjumped the defender but directed his header across the goal rather than into it.

Blind fired a long pass in which he had been specializing throughout this tournament. Vaclik hurtled out of his box to try to intercept but Dumfries beat him and headed – then chased after it.

A defender kept pace with him and slid in to block his attempted shot into an empty goal – Holland had set the stage on fire as the Czechs are having to withstand fierce pressure, with the Dutch attacking rapidly down both flanks. So far the defence has held firm.

Frankie De Jong supplied Depay, who, dropped deep, essayed a low pass-through for Van Aanholt to chase down the left. Van Aanholt got to it and lashes it across the face of goal, where Kanadarek hoofs it to safety.

The pressure on the Czech defence was rising.

The Czechs had invested faith in Kaderabek ahead of Maeju that had given them the edge at the defence, especially during aerial battle and when they defended – five men stayed narrow and solidly to neutralize the Dutch threat in the final third and did not allow the favourites to exploit the spaces behind them.

Neither the Czechs had the pace and fluency of the Dutch nor did they have the attackers at the ranks of Depay or Dumfries, but throughout the tournament, they had been a  threatening side during the counterattack and their composure always aided them to settle and advance forward with enough intent.

With Holes frequently dropping back into defence, the Czechs were practically playing a 5-4-1 and they’ve stemmed the flow of Dutch attacks for the moment.

Wijnaldum made a sudden dash from deep to create space for Malen to drift into, whereupon the forward was picked out by Dumfries. But when Malen unloaded a shot from 12 yards, there were still several bodies in the way, and one diverted it behind for a corner.

The Czechs were gradually getting into the groove – A zippy move down the right by the Czech Republic concludes with a cross by Coufal being put out for a corner. The set-piece was cleared, but it was evident that the right-wing is the Czechs move productive avenue of attacks thanks, in particular, to Masopust and Coufal.

A nice move by the Czechs Republic led through the middle by Soucek. Masopust then slipped it through to Barak at the right-hand side of the box. His shot from 12 yards is deflected over by De Ligt.

After an intriguing and energetic first half of attacking football a flick by Depay, Malen discovered himself with a free run on goal, with only the keeper to beat! He tried to skip around Vaclik but the keeper kept his eye on the ball and grabbed it! And then the Czechs hurtle down the other end and De Ligt perpetrates a deliberate handball to stop Schick beating him at the edge of the area!

The referee has booked De Ligt but the Czechs say the player should be sent off. And VAR advises the ref to have a look on the pitchside screen.

After reviewing the incident on the pitchside screen, the Russian referee decides that De Ligt deliberately used his hand to deny Schick a goal-scoring opportunity. The punishment is upgraded from a yellow to a red card.

It was a telling blow to the Dutch dreams and the Czechs had the numerical advantage.

The Czechs were enjoying more time on the ball now around midfield, with the depleted Dutch recoiling and trying to lure them forward so they can invest on the counter.

Kaderabek got forward to receive a pass on the left-hand side of the Dutch box and tried to send a side-footer into the far corner but Dumfries blocked it.

Stekelenburg nearly fumbled a cross into his own goal but he was lucky that it dropped the other side of the post, so all the Czechs got is a corner.

After an hour, a freekick from the right was headed back from beyond the far post, and Holes headed it into the net from four yards.

There were three defenders on the line trying to block that header but Holes gave it a proper loaf and no one could stop it. The Czechs have exploited the numerical advantage.

The Dutch were reeling and the time was running out.

With ten minutes remaining, Holes bounded onto the ball in midfield, outmuscling Gini Wijnaldum and then careering into the box and pulling it back for Patrik Schick, who arrived on the run to slot it first time into the net.

The Czechs have taken a two-goal lead and the Dutch hopes were shattered in just thirteen minutes.


Holland lost against the resilience and clinical finishing of the Czechs. Surely, they had the numerical advantage, but the Dutch cannot make excuses for not having any shots on goal in such an important encounter.

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