By Temisan Amoye
Netherlands captain Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay were standout performers as the Oranje sealed an easy 3-0 win against North Macedonia on Monday, at Euro 2020, as the Dutch earned maximum points to top Group C.
The victory sees the Netherlands score at least two goals in their last 10 matches, after initial struggles under coach Frank de Boer.
An exciting first half saw Macedonia heap pressure on the Netherlands, with Ivan Trickovski having his goal ruled out for offside in the 10th minute, with VAR affirming the referee’s decision. Aleksandr Trajkovski saw his low strike cannon off the upright, after beating Stekelenburg in the dutch goal.
The Netherlands took the lead in the 24th minute with a counter-attack initiated after a tackle from Blind on Pandev. PSV forward, Donyell Marlen, starting ahead of Wolfsburg forward Wout Weghorst set up new Barca signing, Memphis Depay to send the Netherlands 1-0 up at the Johann Cryuff Arena, Amsterdam.
North Macedonia pushed to pull one back, with Trajkovski who earlier hit the bar, rifling one from 25 yards over the crossbar. Marauding full-back Denzel Dumfries, almost added to his impressive Euro 2020 goal tally of two, receiving a low pass from Malen, the PSV defender saw his close-range shot saved by the legs of keeper Dimitrievski.
Mathijs De Ligt was denied his first goal at the Euros, with Trickovski making a last-ditch headed clearance to prevent the Netherlands from going 2-0 up.
Depay turned provider, as he teed-up PSG-bound Wijnaldum who tapped in from close to send the Oranje 2-0 up in the opening stages of the second half.
North Macedonia came close with a freekick just outside the box, but Baardhi’s strike in the 56th minute was kept out by Stekelenburg.
Wijnaldum and Depay were involved again as the Netherlands scored a third, as Wijnaldum tapped in a rebound from a Depay shot, to put the Oranje on cruise control.
Wijnaldum could have scored a hatrick, but failed to convert a Van Aanholt cross from range. Substitute Wout Weghorst almost made it 4-0, hitting the post with his first touch of the game.
Veteran Goran Pandev who was making his record 122nd and final appearance for North Macedonia was subbed out in the 69th minute to a guard of honour from his teammates as he stepped off the pitch for the final time in international football.
The victory sees the Netherlands lay down a marker as genuine Euro 2020 contenders, as they qualify for the knockout stages, winning all three group stage games, alongside Italy and Belgium. North Macedonia will return home after losing all three matches, despite some respectable performances.