The Dutch national team concluded the European Championship qualification on Tuesday with a big victory over Gibraltar. Partly thanks to a hat trick from Calvin Stengs, the Dutch team won 0-6 against the mini-state in Faro, Portugal.
Stengs was one of the six new names in the Dutch line-up, which as expected had nothing to fear from Gibraltar. After ten minutes, Stengs made it 0-1 and the Dutch team made it 0-3 before half time thanks to goals from Mats Wieffer and Teun Koopmeiners. In the second half, Stengs was also responsible for the 4-0 and 5-0, while he had not scored in his seven previous international matches. Substitute Cody Gakpo set the final score at 0-6 just before the end.
It was a beautiful evening not only for Stengs, but also for Thijs Dallinga and Jorrel Hato. The Toulouse striker and the Ajax youngster made their international debut as a substitute. Hato (17 years and 259 days) will go down as the second youngest Dutch player after the Second World War. Only Matthijs de Ligt was younger in 2017.
The other match on Tuesday evening in group B was Greece against France and that match ended 2-2 in Athens. Randal Kolo Muani made it 0-1 for France in the 42nd minute, but Greece came back strongly after the break. After goals from Tasos Bakasetas and Fotis Ioannidis it was 1-2 for the Greeks in the 61st minute. With a brilliant shot, Youssouf Fofana prevented the vice world champion from losing fifteen minutes before the end.
It was already clear that France and the Netherlands would go to the European Championship as numbers one and two. Greece will play play-offs in March for a ticket to the tournament in Germany. The draw for the group stage of the European Championship will take place in Hamburg on December 2.
Veerman provides an assist at 1-0 and 2-0
At the preview press conference on Monday in Faro, Koeman already announced changes to his line-up. And he did so well. After 3-4-3 against Ireland, the Dutch team started against Gibraltar in 4-3-3, with no fewer than six other players. Jordan Teze, Koopmeiners, Wieffer, Joey Veerman, Stengs and Donyell Malen got the chance.
Even in a B formation, the Dutch team proved to be much stronger than number 182 in the FIFA rankings. The Dutch scored in the tenth minute, via Stengs. On a pass from Veerman, the Feyenoord player controlled the ball into the corner (1-0). It was the first international goal for 24-year-old Stengs, who played his first international match since March 2021.
PSV player Veerman also provided the assist halfway through the first half, from a corner kick, to Wieffer who scored with his head. Just like with Stengs, it was his first international goal. Gibraltar had nothing to say and only saw Koopmeiners score before half time.
Sixth victory for the Dutch team in 2023
At the start of the second half, Koeman awarded defender Hato and Dallinga their debuts. Even with the two newcomers, the Dutch team remained worry-free attackers, resulting in two goals from Stengs. He scored in the fiftieth and sixtieth minutes.
Substitute Gakpo determined the final score at 0-6 by shooting the ball from the side into the far corner. Dallinga just couldn’t reach the ball with his head and so the goal was credited to the Liverpool attacker. More opportunities followed for the Dutch, but the score remained 0-6 and that meant the biggest victory in two years.
The victory over Gibraltar was also the sixth win in ten games in 2023. The four matches with the top countries were lost, twice against France and against Italy and Croatia. That is where the challenge lies for Koeman and the Dutch team towards the European Championships in Germany.