Time to 'stand up and take notice' as Dutch find 'spark'

Whether marching through the streets of German cities in their thousands, or turning stadiums and fan zones orange, the Dutch fans have delivered at Euro 2024.

Now it seems their team has too.

A dreadful performance in a 3-2 defeat against Austria in their final group game - where they could not match the pressing and intensity of their opponents - left their fans fearing their European Championship would soon be over.

But, against a spirited and fearless Romania, they produced the sort of performance their supporters had been hoping to see as a 3-0 victory sent them into the quarter-finals.

Two of the goals came late in the game, scored by half-time substitute Donyell Malen, but they should have been comfortably clear well before then, having missed numerous chances after Cody Gakpo's first-half opener.

But this was more about the performance as a whole as the Netherlands played high tempo, fast-paced attacking football that had their fans dancing and partying into the night in Munich.

"Welcome to the tournament," said former Premier League goalkeeper Paul Robinson on BBC Radio 5 Live.

"Stand up and take notice, everybody. Harsh for Romania, but the Dutch completely outclassed them."

'They can actually go and win it'

The performance in Munich, more than the result, will concern the Netherlands' Euro 2024 rivals.

If they can build on this display, and get through the next round too, they will face a semi-final against England or Switzerland.

"That might just be the performance that gives them confidence that they can actually go on and win it," former England striker Alan Shearer said on BBC One.

"That could be the performance that gives them that edge."

Ex-England defender Alex Scott said the Dutch "had a spark and a different energy", while former Wales captain Ashley Williams was also impressed, saying: "They had the complete performance.

"You can't call anything in this tournament but I think they will be really confident now."

'Important' Gakpo wants to create new Euros memories

Cody Gakpo celebrates his goal against Romania
Cody Gakpo is joint top scorer at Euro 2024 with three goals in four games [Getty Images]

Key to the victory was the first-half goal by Gakpo, making him joint-top scorer in Germany as he continued his excellent form at major international tournaments.

In 10 games at World Cups and European Championships, he has scored six goals.

The Netherlands, in their first Euro quarter-final since 2008, need three more wins to emulate the European champions of 1988.

"It is lots of memories but now we are here with this squad and trying to create memories of our own," Gakpo said.

Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman, who played in the triumphant 1988 side, looked far happier in the post-match news conference than he did after the Austria loss and was keen to stress the importance of this not being just a one off.

"We are Dutch and in Holland we have to play well, we have to play offensive," he said.

"The performance was outstanding and that is what we need to have a chance to continue in this tournament."

The Dutch fans have been a colourful presence at Euro 2024 and clearly don't want to go home. Based on this showing from their side, they could be around for a while longer yet.