Austria edge five-goal thriller against Netherlands to win Group D

Marcel Sabitzer’s late strike saw Austria edge a five-goal thriller against the Netherlands and send them through to the knockout stage of Euro 2024 as Group D winners.

Ralf Rangnick’s well-organised and impressive side were twice pegged back in an entertaining contest in Berlin but Sabitzer had the final say 10 minutes from time.

A Donyell Malen own goal gave Austria an early lead with Romano Schmid putting them back in front after a Cody Gakpo leveller.

Memphis Depay scored the Netherlands’ second equaliser but it was not enough as Austria leapfrogged both them and runners-up France, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Poland in Dortmund.

Austria were rewarded for a bright start after just six minutes as Malen turned the ball into his own net from a low Alexander Prass cross.

The Netherlands struggled to respond with Tijjani Reijnders slicing well wide and Malen badly spurning a chance to atone when he scuffed a shot.

Austria continued to look the more dangerous with Sabitzer having an effort blocked and forcing a save from Bart Verbruggen. Florian Grillitsch also tested the keeper before Marko Arnautovic fluffed a good chance.

Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman sent Xavi Simons on to reinvigorate his side after just 35 minutes and it paid off when his break led to Gakpo’s fine equaliser.

The Dutch were not level for long as the impressive Schmid got on the end of a fine Grillitsch cross to power in a header, via a deflection.

The Netherlands pulled level again when Depay controlled a nod down from Wout Weghorst and fired in, with an initial ruling he handled being overturned by VAR.

But Austria were not done and hit back once again as Sabitzer found space on the left of the area and then smashed a powerful shot into the roof of the net from a tight angle.

There was still time for Austria’s Christoph Baumgartner to have a goal disallowed for offside and Weghort to send a diving header over the bar, but it was the side ranked 25th in the world who finished top of Group D on six points, with the Netherlands progressing as one of the best third-placed teams.

The game’s big moments…

Patrick Wimmer wheels away to celebrate after Austria take the lead against the Netherlands through a Donyell Malen own goal
Austria took the lead when Donyell Malen diverted a cross into his own net in the 6th minute

Cody Gakpo celebrates after equalising for the Netherlands against Austria
Cody Gakpo equalised for the Netherlands immediately after the break

Romano Schmid celebrates after restoring Austria's lead against the Netherlands
Romano Schmid restored Austria’s lead in the 59th minute

Memphis Depay celebrates after bringing Netherlands level against Austria
Memphis Depay’s fine finish brought the Netherlands level for a second time

Marcel Sabitzer celebrates after restoring Austria's lead against the Netherlands
Marcel Sabitzer’s 80th-minute strike was the difference in Berlin

Rangnick: An incredible feat to finish top

Austria coach Ralf Rangnick said: “We deserved to win in the end. Overall, we had the greater will to win and an extreme energy output on the pitch, which you could feel in every phase of the match.

“The way we reacted to the goals we conceded, that we didn’t bend, that we stayed true to our style of play and constantly kept seeking out our chances going forward.

“It’s incredible to finish top of a group that was the hardest possible based on UEFA coefficients.

“We started with an unlucky own goal against France, dealt with all the pressure put on us to win against Poland, and then to end as group winners is something very special.”

Koeman: We deserved to lose

Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman said: “We started very badly in many aspects. There were many openings for the opponent. We were not aggressive and there was a lack of pressure on the opponents.

“It was very bad. We did not control the match early. Later on we performed slightly better and we had a few opportunities, but they punished us.”

“We have to take responsibility on the pitch; we’re not entitled to get a better result.

“We knew before the match that if we finish third we would get a big nation in the next round. We will wait and see what happens.”

Analysis: Dangerous Austria won’t fear anyone

Sky Sports’ Dan Sansom:

Ralf Rangnick admitted there was doubt among the players when he was hired as Austria’s manager in 2022, but the 65-year-old has now led the nation to back-to-back wins at a major tournament for the first time since the 1982 World Cup – and he’s done so in impressive style.

Known as one of the godfathers of “gegenpressing”, the German has left a permanent mark on modern football and Austria’s current squad is excelling under his guidance.

Their aggressive, front-foot approach saw them perform well against France despite losing their Group D opener and more eye-catching displays followed in deserved wins over Poland and the Netherlands.

Austria, Euro 2024
Austria have reached the knockout stage of Euro 2024 as Group D winners

While Austria’s constant running and fluid movement caused constant problems for the Dutch in Berlin, their never-say-die attitude – instilled by Rangnick – was equally as impressive.

Many will view a nation ranked 25th in the world as a surprise package at this tournament, but Austria have now lost just twice in 18 matches.

Rangnick’s side are a force to be reckoned with. They won’t fear anyone in the knockout stage.

Who faces who in the last 16?

Austria will face the runners-up of Group F (currently Turkey) in the last 16, with France facing the runners-up in Group E (currently Belgium).

The Netherlands’ next opponents are not yet confirmed. They could face Group B winners Spain, Group C winners (currently England), or Group E winners (currently Romania).

Once the four best third-placed teams have been determined, UEFA then allocates each nation to a last-16 tie in line with its regulations.

How does ranking third-placed teams work?

The top two teams from each of the six groups will proceed to the round of 16.

Those 12 sides will be joined by four of the six third-placed finishers in the groups. The sides finishing third will be placed into a league table, with the top four sides progressing to the last 16.

The teams that finish third in their respective groups are ranked in order of the following criteria, starting with:

  1. Points
  2. Goal difference
  3. Goals scored
  4. Wins
  5. Lower disciplinary points total
  6. European Qualifiers overall ranking

The tournament then moves to a straight knockout format, with one-legged ties – including extra-time and penalties if necessary – until two sides reach the final on July 14 in Berlin.

Stats: Story of the match

Group D final results…

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