Netherlands began their U19 European Championship campaign with a 3-1 victory over Croatia despite being reduced to ten men early in the second half.

  • By Michael Bell
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nouri bergwijnAron Winter’s side began the game in control with Sam Lammers testing the Croatian goalkeeper with a cheeky backheel flick before Steven Bergwijn opened the scoring on ten minutes with a well-placed header.

Just before the half-hour mark, it was 2-0 as Abdelhak Nouri brilliantly flicked Calvin Verdonk’s cross into the path of Lammers, and the PSV striker calmly finished into the bottom corner.

After the second goal Croatia improved and just before the break, Josip Brekalo cut in from the left before hammering a strike past Yanick van Osch, who got a hand to the ball but couldn’t stop it flying into the net.

Early in the second half Netherlands were reduced to ten men with Deyovaisio Zeefuik shown his second half, and Croatia created several chances to equalise, but Brekalo and Fran Brodić both missed decent chances. As Croatia poured forward, Netherlands killed the game with five minutes to go with Bergwijn finishing a swift counter attack.

Netherlands face England in their second group game on Friday. A win would seal their place in the knockout stage, and entry into the U20 World Cup next year.

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