The Netherlands cruised to a routine 3-0 victory over North Macedonia as they warmed up for the last 16 with their third straight win at Euro 2020.
North Macedonia threatened early on with Goran Pandev – making his final ever appearance for his country – bringing some neat one-twos to the table. But after a shakey Dutch start, Pandev’s farewell party was spoiled on 24 minutes, when Donyell Malen teed up Memphis Depay to stroke in the opener.
It wasn’t all plain sailing from there. Macedonia twice had the ball in the back of the net over the course of the game, as Ivan Trickovski and Darko Churlinov were denied by the offside flag. For the most part, though, Frank de Boer’s team controlled it, and put the game beyond any doubt when the flying Depay twice teed up Georginio Wijnaldum in quick succession.
The trio of Depay, Wijnaldum and Malen looked a real danger and could provide something to really worry about for whoever comes up against them in the round of 16. But one more word on Pandev before we get into the ratings: 120 caps, 38 goals. A Balkan football legend.
Stole Dimitrievski (GK) – 6/10 – The Rayo Vallecano keeper made a wonderful reaction stop to deny Depay. Alert to the long balls over the top and kept his team in the game throughout the first half.
Stefan Ristovski (RB) – 7/10 – Saw plenty of the ball and was frequently seen charging forward from deep – particularly in the first half.
Darko Velkovski (CB) – 6/10 – Held things together with some key blocks and challenges. Could have been worse without his influence.
Visar Musliu (CB) – 4/10 – Far too rash in his tackling and couldn’t really get close to Depay.
Ezgjan Alioski (LB) – 5/10 – The Leeds man had plenty of work to do against the lively Dumfries but stood up to the challenge and made a couple of key blocks.
Enis Bardhi (CM) – 7/10 – Threatened with a few testing through balls and would have had a brilliant second-half assist – but the assistant ref did his job properly. .
Arijan Ademi (CM) – 5/10 – Couldn’t really get a handle on Wijnaldum, Gravenberch or Frenkie de Jong as the Dutch midfield reigned supreme. Sacrificed for the final ten minutes along with Bardhi.
Eljif Elmas (CM) – 6/10 – Got forward to support the front three but fell out of the game as it ran away from his side in the second half.
Ivan Trickovski (RW) – 6/10 – Thought he had the opening goal early on only to be denied by a marginal offside call. Fantastic clearance off the line to keep the Dutch down to one shortly before he was substituted.
Goran Pandev (CF) – 7/10 – Making his final appearance for his country and was heavily involved in a few promising early attacks. The 38-year-old was given a guard of honour by his teammates when he was substituted in the second half – richly deserved too.
Aleksandar Trajkovski (LW) – 6/10 – Unlucky not to open the scoring when he rattled the post early in the first half. One of North Macedonia’s most potent threats until he was substituted with 20 to go.
Darko Churlinov (Trickovsky, 56) – 6/10
Ferhan Hassani (Trajkovsky, 68) – 5/10
Tihomir Kostadinov (Pandev, 69) – 5/10
Boban Nikolov (Ademi, 78) – 4/10
Vlatko Stojanovski (Bardhi, 68) – 4/10
Maarten Stekelenburg (GK) – 6/10 – Quiet evening after an early Macedonian barrage. Ten touches of the ball says it all.
Stefan de Vrij (CB) – 6/10 – Tidied things up and organised the defence well without too much of a test.
Matthijs de Ligt (CB) – 6/10 – A little rash with his challenges at times but won most of what he contested and kept the handful of North Macedonia attacks at bay.
Daley Blind (CB) – 7/10 – Made a couple of key challenges – one of which a thunderous tackle on Pandev that got the counter started for Holland’s opener. Looked steady for the most part.
Denzel Dumfries (RWB) – 7/10 – Provided a lot of energy and enthusiasm down the right hand side and had a major hand in the opening goal. Taken off for a rest at half-time.
Frenkie de Jong (CM) – 6/10 – Quietest of the Dutch midfield but grew into the game as his side took control. Did his job with minimal fuss.
Georginio Wijnaldum (AM) – 8/10 – Continued his wonderful scoring record for his country with two poacher’s finishes in the second half. Joint-top scorer in the tournament and on this showing, the Golden Boot may not be an unrealistic expectation.
Ryan Gravenberch (CM) – 7/10 – Is there anything he can’t do? His first start for his country but you couldn’t tell it from the composure and drive he showed in the middle of the park.
Patrick van Aanholt (LWB) – 6/10 – Wasn’t given too much license to attack in the first half but routinely bombed forward after Dumfries was taken off at the break.
Donyell Malen (CF) – 7/10 – Heavily involved in the first three goals and made his case for a regular place in the team – though Wout Weghost may have something to say about that. Came off for the final 25.
Memphis Depay (CF) – 9/10 – Typically composed finish for the opener and two assists for Wijnaldum to send his team into easy street. A constant threat up until he was rested for the closing stages.
Jurrien Timber (De Vrij, 46) – 6/10
Steven Berguis (Dumfries, 46) – 6/10
Quincy Promes (Depay, 66) – 5/10
Wout Weghorst (Malen, 66) – 6/10
Cody Gakpo (De Jong, 79) – 5/10