Euro 2024 Report: Netherlands 2 - 3 Austria

General view inside the stadium as Florian Grillitsch of Austria is challenged by Donyell Malen of the Netherlands during the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match between Netherlands and Austria at Olympiastadion on June 25, 2024 in Berlin

General view inside the stadium as Florian Grillitsch of Austria is challenged by Donyell Malen of the Netherlands during the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match between Netherlands and Austria at Olympiastadion on June 25, 2024 in Berlin Credit: (Photo by Maja Hitij - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

Macdara Ferris reports from the Olympiastadion in Berlin

Austria emerged victorious in a five goal thriller at the Olympiastadion in a game that twice the Dutch came back to level but the Austrians weren't to be denied.

Marcel Sabitzer get the winner in the bright Berlin sunshine ten minutes from time to send Austria through as group winners, with the French runners up after only drawing 1-1 against the already eliminated Poland.

Das Team blasted out of the blocks in the Olympiastadion at the start of this Group D game and had the lead inside six minutes. They had all of the possession in the opening few minutes with a couple of early crosses causing the Dutch some difficulty. 

That pressure told as they took the lead thanks to an Oranje boot as Donyell Malen's powerful toe poke off Alexander Prass’ cross from the left beat Bart Verbruggen.

While the Dutch fans had outnumbered and out-sung the French fans in Leipzig during their scoreless draw, this time around it was the Austrian fans making most of the noise – helped by taking the lead so early in the game.

It certainly felt like an away game for the Netherlands as amazingly this was the first time they had ever played in Berlin.

With the open end of the ground at the Marathon Tor (Gate), it created a funnel of sunlight that stretched from Bart Verbruggen’s goal out wide to his right and that was from where the Austrian goal came from.

The jeopardy of the result for Ronald Koeman’s side – on the 36th anniversary of Koeman winning Euro 88 – wasn’t of the high stakes we’d seen between Italy and Croatia the previous night.

The Netherlands were already guaranteed a place in the last 16 at least as a best third place team.

However, the Austrians knew that any sort of positive result would book them a place in the knock-out stages while a win would secure them top spot if the result went their way in the France game in Dortmund.

And so we had the gegenpress typical of a Ralf Rangnick side but they also made sure to hold onto the ball when they had it. The Austrian fans gave it the 'Olé, Olé' for a couple of minutes as the Dutch could only watch on as the ball was manoeuvred back and forth in front of them.

Patrick Pentz in the Austrian goal wasn't called upon to save his team as the Dutch were wasteful with efforts that came their way.

Tijjani Reijnders twice shot wide in the opening half and Malen didn’t let his head drop after his OG. He threatened down the right, dragged a shot wide and his pull back fed Jerdy Schouten whose shot on target blocked.

Rangnick already had an eye on a possible last 16 game when he left four of the six players carrying bookings into the game on the bench. However, Patrick Wimmer was one of two who started and his 33rd minute yellow means he will miss the knock out tie.

Koeman brought on Xavi Simons ten minutes from the break in place of Joey Veerman. Sabitzer forced Verbruggen into a save and the keeper almost gifted Austria a goal when he flapped at the ball when it came back in with Marko Arnatovic lurking in front of him.

It only took two minutes of the second half for the Dutch to draw level as Florian Grillitsch was robbed in his own half. The Netherlands broke through sub Simons. Cody Gakpo picked up his pass, cut inside and curled a left foot effort home to send the Dutch supporters celebrating.

The Netherlands then went close with a couple of Memphis corners the first of which was heading goalwards off the head of Dutch skipper Virgil van Dijk took a deflection off Max Wober to take it over the bar.

A minute before the hourmark Austria returned to lead with a well taken goal. Tight and crisp passing enabled Florian Grillitsch’s get to the byeline and his pull back was sent on target by Romano Schmid’s diving header with Stefan De Vri’s fruitless touch only taking it into the goal. 

Koeman brought on the big man Wout up front and Wieghorst supplied the assist for the Dutch equaliser. He got up to head down Gakpo’s centre and Memphis controlled it and slotted it home with his right foot in the 75th minute.

In a very poor decision Ivan Kružliak ruled the goal out for a Memphis handball when he took it down but the VAR officials got the Slovakian referee to drop across to check the sideline telly and it was back to 2-2.

That scoreline didn’t last long though as within five minutes skipper Sabitzer smashed home the winner having been involved in the move earlier before running onto a beaut of a pass from the outside of Christoph Baumgartner’s boot.

The defeat means the Dutch finished third in Group D but they will go through as one of the best third placed teams.

Austria, talked up as dark horses coming into the tournament, may will be thinking they can go all the way and be back here in Berlin for the final next month. They will face the runners up in Group F – Turkey or Czechia - in the last 16 in Leipzig.

Questions remain about this Netherlands side but they do have a knock out game to get back on track. 

Netherlands: Bart Verbruggen; Lutsharel Geertruida, Stefan de Vrij, Virgil van Dijk, Nathan Aké (Micky van de Ven 66); Tijani Reijnders (Georginio Wijnaldum 66), Jerdy Schouten, Joey Veerman (Xavier Simons 35); Donyell Malen (Wout Weghorst 72), Memphis, Cody Gakpo,.
Subs not used: Mark Flekken, Justin Bijlow, Matthijs de Ligt, Denzel Dumfries, , Daley Blind, Jeremie Frimpong, Ryan Gravenberch, Ian Maatsen, Joshua Zirkzee, Brian Brobbey, Steven Bergwijn.
Booked: None.

Austria: Patrick Pentz; Maximilian Wober, Philipp Lienhart (Leopold Querfeld 62), Stefan Posch, Alexander Prass; Nicolas Seiwald, Florian Grillitsch (Konrad Laimer 69); Patrick Wimmer (Christoph Baumgartner 63), Marcel Sabitzer, Romano Schmid (Andreas Weimann 90+2); Marko Arnautovic (Michael Gregoritsch 76).
Subs not used: Niklas Hedl, Heinz Lindner, Gernot Trauner, Phillipp Mwene, Flavius Daniliuc, Marco Grull, Florian Kainz, Matthias Seidl, Maximilian Entrup, Kevin Danso.
Booked: Stefan Posch (32), Patrick Wimmer (33), Leopold Querfeld (90+5).

Referee: Ivan Kružliak (Slovakia) Player of the Match: Marcel Sabitzer (Austria)