Amsterdam: The Netherlands crashed out of Euro 2016 yesterday as a 3-2 home defeat against the 10-man Czech Republic in the final round of qualifying matches ended their slim hopes of reaching next year’s finals.
Pavel Kaderabek and Josef Sural netted first-half goals in Amsterdam before the Czechs lost Marek Suchy to a red card just before the break, but the visitors then added a third as Robin van Persie farcically headed into his own net.
The Dutch rallied with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar pulling one back before Van Persie then scored at the right end but it proved insufficient as the Dutch finished fourth in Group A, which means the Oranje will miss a major international tournament for the first time since the 2002 World Cup.
The Czech Republic went through as group winners after Turkey’s 1-0 win over Iceland ensured Fatih Terim’s side clinched third place in the group, with Kazakhstan’s 1-0 victory away to Latvia sending Turkey to France next summer as the best third-place qualifier.
The Dutch, third at last year’s World Cup in Brazil, were already hanging by a thread going into Tuesday’s game at the Amsterdam Arena, needing a victory over the Czechs coupled with Iceland beating Turkey in Konya.
A 2-1 defeat to the Czech Republic in Prague a year ago had set the tone for the Netherlands’ disastrous qualifying campaign, which also included two losses to Iceland as well as a heavy 3-0 reverse in Turkey last month, and they again found themselves behind here after 24 minutes.
Jiri Skalak released Kaderabek in behind the Dutch backline and the Hoffenheim right-back swept a composed finish beyond third-choice goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet, deputising between the posts with Jasper Cillessen and Tim Krul both injured.
The visitors added a second on 35 minutes as Tomas Necid flicked the ball towards Sural who poked home his first international goal to leave the Dutch staring into the abyss.
The 1988 European champions were given a lifeline on 43 minutes when Suchy was dismissed after bringing down Memphis Depay as the last man but there was further embarrassment after the restart.
Van Persie, who celebrated his 100th international cap in Saturday’s 2-1 win in Kazakhstan, attempted to cushion a header back to Zoet following a Skalak free-kick but could only watch in horror as the ball skipped into his own net to put the Czechs 3-0 up on 66 minutes.
Huntelaar pulled a goal back for the Dutch four minutes later when he rose to power a header past Petr Cech from a corner.
Van Persie then ran onto a knockdown from Bas Dost and prodded beyond Cech to make it 3-2 with seven minutes left but Danny Blind’s men were unable to avoid failing to qualify for the European Championship for the first time since 1984, when France also hosted the event.