Dutch supersub Weghorst scores winner against Poland

June 16 – A goal in the 83rd minute by Dutch supersub Wout Weghorst was enough to dispatch Poland and kickstart the Netherlands campaign.

In front of the massed ranks of orange-clad fans in Hamburg, it was the Poles that opened the scoring through Adam Buska in the 16th minute, but their lead only lasted 14 minutes before Cody Gakpo equalised.

With the clock ticking into the final 10 minutes it was the arrival of Weghorst and a repeat of his World Cup late scoring heroics that sealed the game.

The pre-match talk had been about the missing Robert Lewandowski for Poland and the Dutch creative genius Frenkie de Jong. Both sides missed their talismen and that final edge in front of goal, but it was nevertheless an entertaining game that will be more pleasing for Ronald Koeman’s ambitions.

At the World Cup in 2022 the Netherlands exited at the round of 16, losing to Argentina on penalties. They felt they could have gone further and come into this tournament, after a tricky qualifying campaign, quietly confident and with a team expectant on its youth to step up.

Adam Buksa opened the scoring for Poland against the run of play

To a large degree they did but it still needed the old warhorse Weghorst to make the difference.

The Dutch set the tone from the start, controlling possession in the Polish half, pushing and probing a deep sitting Polish rearguard. Gakpo tested Wojciech Sczczesny low at his right post early.

It took until the 14th minute for the Polish to manage to get a foothold on the ball and in the game, winning a corner on the left. Buksa rose above a static Dutch defense to meet Piotr Zielinski’s corner and angle his header across the goal and past Bart Verbruggen.

Game on. The Dutch reasserted themselves and their pressure inside the Polish half searching for a quick equaliser.

In the 20th minute a Joey Veerman corner was met by Virgil van Dyke’s boot in the box drawing a smart reaction save from Sczczesny. A minute later Memphis Depay wasted a golden opportunity. More squandered chances followed.

Cody Gakpo was a constant Dutch threat

In the 29th minute Gakpo equalised, picking up the ball from a failed crossfield Polish clearance deep in the Polish half, driving towards goal and unleashing a shot that picked up enough of a lucky deflection off Jan Bednarek to go past a stranded Sczczesny.

The Dutch continued to press, and waste chances.

Gakpo fired over the bar from 4m out after the impressive Xavi Simons, switching to the left, squared a ball. Depay pulled the ball just past the post in the last action of the half.

The Dutch went in doubtless pleased with the football they had played – goalscoring apart – while the Poles would have been pleased with the scoreline.

The second half delivered more of the same with the Poles struggling to retain possession and the Dutch easily gathering up anything coming at them. Depay blasted wide from distance, Simons did the same but closer to goal.

With Poland bringing on fresh legs the Dutch suddenly faced pressure of their own. In the 59th minute Jakub Kiwior and Zielinski tested Dutch keeper Verbruggen.

The Dutch responded with two substitutions of their own and again recomposed themselves. Denzel Dumfries, marauding down the right hammered just past the goal, while Depay just couldn’t get the ball to run right for him in the crowded Polish box.

No space left in the Volksparkstadion 

On 73 minutes Stefan de Vrij headed over from a corner that should have been buried in the back of the net.

In the 83rd minute the Dutch broke the Polish resistance. Super sub Wout Weghorst, on the pitch for just two minutes, received the ball from Nathan Ake on the left to hit his shot on the run past Sczczesny.

It was no less than the Dutch deserved for the pressure and possession. They now move on to Leizig to face France and what will be a much sterner test.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1721239415labto1721239415ofdlr1721239415owedi1721239415sni@n1721239415osloh1721239415cin.l1721239415uap1721239415