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regular-article-logo Thursday, 18 July 2024

European Championship: Netherlands forward Wout Weghorst scores to win 2-1 over Poland

Like in Doha, Dutch striker comes off bench to score crucial goal

AP/PTI Hamburg Published 17.06.24, 10:12 AM
Wout Weghorst celebrates after scoring the winner for the Netherlands against Poland in a Group D match of Euro 2024 in Hamburg on Sunday

Wout Weghorst celebrates after scoring the winner for the Netherlands against Poland in a Group D match of Euro 2024 in Hamburg on Sunday Reuters

Netherlands forward Wout Weghorst loves to make a big impression off the bench and he did it again Sunday late in a 2-1 win over Poland at the European Championship.

The giant striker struck with a low left-foot shot in the 83rd minute with his first touch after coming on to replace Memphis Depay, who had wasted several shooting chances.

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Weghorst might not look like the most elegant player. Still, his reputation for being effective was earned at the 2022 World Cup with two late goals against Argentina to force extra time in a memorable quarter final against the eventual champions.

This time, Weghorst’s goal was worth a win that puts some pressure on Group D favourites France, who already beat the Dutch twice in qualifying last year and play Austria on Monday.

“I said it this morning to my girlfriend: ‘Scores level, 0-0, 1-1, 20 minutes to go... It was a bit later. But you feel it and visualise it for yourself,” Weghorst told Dutch broadcaster NOS.

Poland were forced to cope without their injured star Robert Lewandowski, but soon found a goal from his replacement who matured in Major League Soccer.

Adam Buksa used all his height of 1.91 meters (6-foot-3), a bit shorter than Weghorst at 1.97 meters, when circled by four Dutch defenders at a 16th-minute corner to guide a header into the net. Buksa had two-and-a-half prolific years with the New England Revolution until returning in 2022 to join French club Lens.

Cody Gakpo levelled in the 29th with a deflected shot that deceived goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. It was a fair reward for a vibrant first half for the Dutch. Gakpo is a fast starter at major tournaments. He scored in all three group-stage games at the World Cup that led the Netherlands to a clash with Argentina. That day too in Doha, Weghorst had replaced Depay when he came on in the 78th.

Weghorst then had a testy exchange with Lionel Messi in a post-game interview area that became a viral meme after the Argentina great barked at the former Manchester United forward to stop staring at him.

A reliable option for the Dutch, Weghorst now has four goals in five national-team games this year and he scored three more in the Euro 2024 qualifying group.

The Netherlands win was preserved by goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen with key late saves from substitute Karol Swiderski and, with the last touch of the game, a long-range shot by Nicola Zalewski.

About 50,000 Dutch fans made the short trip to Hamburg and there was a shooting incident involving police before the game in the downtown St Pauli district, near where many had gathered. It did not seem related to football.

Police said they shot and injured a man who was threatening them with an axe and a Molotov cocktail. Police officers opened fire after the man refused to put down the axe, hitting him in the leg, police spokesman Thilo Marxsen said. The man was hospitalised with his injuries, Marxsen said.

German authorities have put police on high alert during the tournament.

On Friday, police fatally shot an Afghan man after he killed a compatriot and later wounded three people watching the televised game between Germany and Scotland in a town in eastern Germany. Police said Sunday that the motive for that attack was still unclear.

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