Austria produced a hugely impressive performance that will make others take notice at Euro 2024 as they beat the Netherlands to progress to the last 16 as Group D winners.

Despite being handed a tough draw with the Dutch and France, Ralf Rangnick’s side won two of their three games to go finish top of the standings.

The Netherlands had already guaranteed their progression to the last 16 but they will now go through as one of the best third-placed sides, with France second.

This was a fully deserved win for Austria as they played with spirit and desire throughout, and showed great determination to respond to a fast start to the second-half by the Netherlands as Marcel Sabitzer’s strike secured the victory.

The Austrians had been gifted a sixth-minute lead when Donyell Malen turned home Alexander Prass’s dangerous cross.

And, although Malen had a chance at redemption but scuffed his shot, Austria took control as the Netherlands struggled to get a touch of the ball at times.

Rangnick’s side had chances to add to their lead through Sabitzer and Marko Arnautovic, but the Netherlands were level just 75 seconds into the second half.

The Dutch came out fighting in the second half and equalised when Cody Gakpo curled in a great finish.

That prompted a shift in tempo and Austria were holding on as Virgil van Dijk’s header deflected over the bar.

But Austria weathered the storm and retook the lead through Romano Schmid’s powerful header, which the unfortunate Stefan de Vrij could only help over the line.

Memphis Depay thought he had earned the Dutch a draw when his close-range volley survived a check for handball by the video assistant referee, but Sabitzer had the final say when he broke through and drove into the roof of the net to send the Austrian fans wild.

Austria proving the ones to watch at Euro 2024

Rangnick’s side will be seen by many as a surprise package, but their form going into Euro 2024 suggested they were a team that should always have been taken seriously.

They won their final two games of 2023 and continued that with victory in three of their four games prior to travelling to Germany.

The Dutch are usually known for their slick attacking style but instead it was Austria who played with tempo and precision in Berlin, with their constant running and movement often pulling their opponents into positions they did not want to be in.

To the Netherlands’ credit, they did twice fight back to level but Austria’s never-say-die attitude got them a well-earned win.

At the final whistle, the Austria fans stayed behind to applaud their team, with both displaying a togetherness that could take them far in Germany.

Dutch disappointment

This game came 36 years to the day since the Netherlands won the European Championship, but they know they are going to have to play much better to repeat that success here.

Their largely below-par display could be attributed to knowing they were already into the last 16 but, aside from a 15-minute spell after half-time, they simply lacked the hunger and desire of the Austrians.

A positive for boss Ronald Koeman going into the knockouts, however, was a goal for striker Depay, who had struggled to lead the Dutch attack in previous games.

Kesh Awefada

Kesh Awefada

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