Oranje with perfect EM preliminary round: Austria books the first knockout round ticket

Orange with perfect EM preliminary round
Austria booked their first round of 16 tickets

David Alaba prepares, Christoph Baumgartner completes: Austria saves a narrow lead over time in its last group game at the European Football Championship against Ukraine. For the combative North Macedonians, the tournament ends against the clearly superior Dutch.

Austria’s Bundesliga selection made football history with a win in their “final”. The team around captain David Alaba made it into the knockout round for the first time at a European championship with a 1-0 (1-0) in the last preliminary round match against Ukraine. As runners-up in Group C, the team of German coach Franco Foda will face four-time world champions Italy in the round of 16 on Saturday (9 p.m.) in Wembley.

Hoffenheim’s Christoph Baumgartner (21st) scored the winning goal in Bucharest for the Austrians, who survived the preliminary round of a major tournament for the first time since the 1982 World Cup. Long-time Bayern star Alaba, one of nine Bundesliga players in the starting line-up, had previously spoken of a “final”: “We want to win to make history.” Ukraine, on the other hand, as third with three points, is dependent on the help of the shooter in order to reach the knockout round as well.

Alaba started on the left for the first time in this tournament. In the first two group matches against North Macedonia (3-1) and against the Netherlands (0-2), Foda had surprisingly ordered the future Real Madrid professional into central defense, his offensive accents were missing.

Alaba initiates the tour

Again, the 28-year-old was on the defensive – as an opponent of the ex-Dortmund player Andrej Jarmolenko, who had already scored twice for Ukraine. But Alaba, usually used in the national team in midfield, helped to stimulate. Austria started offensive because a victory was necessary for second place. Marko Arnautovic, who had returned after being suspended for insulting an opponent, should ensure more penetration in the attack.

Alaba initiated the lead with his fifth corner, Baumgartner was spot on and pushed the ball over the line. The reward for a strong initial phase in which the Austrians clearly determined the game. It took almost half an hour for Ukraine to shoot on goal for the first time through Mykola Schaparenko. But keeper Daniel Bachmann cleared (29th). On the other side, Leipzig’s Konrad Laimer had the 2-0 on foot, but Georgij Buschtschan (37th) parried his flick. The chance that Arnautovic presented himself shortly before the break was even greater: But the ex-Bremer missed a cross from Schalke Alessandro Schöpf miserably (42nd).

The Ukrainian fans, who made up the vast majority of the 13,000 spectators in the national stadium, had now become significantly quieter. The Austrians did not let up in the second round either. Whenever Alaba took a free kick or corner, there was danger in front of the Ukrainian goal. However, coach Andrei Shevchenko’s team intensified their attacking efforts after the break. Alaba and Co. defended cleverly and always set offensive accents. Shevchenko and his team became more and more desperate.

Netherlands with a white vest

Meanwhile, things went much more smoothly for the Netherlands. The Oranje team has also won their third European Championship preliminary round match in the “living room” of Amsterdam and is becoming more and more of the title contenders. In the clear 3-0 (1-0) against the pointless EM newcomer North Macedonia, the Elftal offensively again delivered a convincing performance.

The future Barcelona professional Memphis Depay (24th) and Georginio Wijnaldum (52nd / 58th) scored for the team of Bondscoach Frank de Boer, which, like in 2000 and 2008, played a perfect European Championship preliminary round without losing points. Oranje won the group even before the kick-off, in the round of 16 it will now play third in the group on Sunday in Budapest – who could theoretically also be called Germany.

“We’re taking the game dead seriously,” de Boer said before the start of the game. The game for the golden pineapple – or “the emperor’s beard”, as the Dutch saying goes – ran in one direction from the start: The home side dominated the event in the atypical and in the Netherlands still controversial 5-3-2, the strong running guests were waiting for a counterattack.

Pandev left Platz in tears

The Oranje team exuded more joy in the game, up to the penalty area the Elftal sometimes combined at will – and then remained without ideas. At first, the EM newcomer was more dangerous with his needle pricks. A goal by Ivan Trickovski was not recognized because of offside (9th), later Aleksandar Trajkovski hit the post (22nd).

Shortly afterwards the favorite took the lead. North Macedonia star Goran Pandev lost the ball in a tough duel in his 122nd and last international match, and after a quick combination, Depay hit the left into the goal from eleven meters. Depay, who recently stormed Lyon, scored the important 1-0 against Ukraine (3: 2).

Shortly after the break, Wijnaldum also scored his second goal – again after Pandev lost the ball. A little later, the future PSG professional Wijnaldum even made it 3-0, so the match was decided. The fans in the arena let the wave circling and a little later celebrated Wolfsburg’s striker Wout Weghorst, who hit the bar seconds after being substituted on (67th). It got emotional when Pandev walked through a line of his teammates from the field with tears in his eyes.