The Czech Republic snatched a last-gasp 2-1 win over the Netherlands thanks to Vaclav Pilar’s added time goal after a dreadful mistake by Daryl Janmaat in their opening Euro 2016 qualifier on Tuesday.
Defender Janmaat attempted to cushion a header back to Jasper Cillessen inside the area but it beat the Dutch keeper and struck the post only for Pilar to tuck the rebound into the net to the delight of the home fans watching the Group A clash.
“Three to five minutes before the end of the game, I would have taken a draw,” said Czech Coach Pavel Vrba. “All my players tackled well and gave good individual performances. I can’t single anybody out because it wouldn’t be fair to the others.”
The Czechs had started brightly and were rewarded in the 22nd minute when David Lafata controlled a cross into the box before laying it off to Borek Dockal whose left-foot shot slammed off the post into the net to give the hosts the lead.
The Dutch, third-place finishers at the World Cup in Brazil, responded with a Stefan de Vrij driving a header into the back of the net after a cross from Daley Blind in the 55th minute. The Czechs kept their shape at the start in an effort to blunt a Dutch attack missing several key players, including Arjen Robben who was out with an ankle injury.
THE Dutch, who finished third at the World Cup, began taking more control in the second half but they could not beat Czech keeper Petr Cech for a winner as both sides pressed forward. The Czechs, who have been struggling in recent matches, always looked dangerous on the break and scored when the Dutch mix up gave them a dream start to their campaign. The result also gave Vrba, who took over following their failure to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil, his first victory at the helm.
The match was Guus Hiddink’s first competitive game in charge since his return to the national side after Louis van Gaal stepped down to take charge of Manchester United. The coach bemoaned the mistakes that led to the winning goal and said the loss of Robben deprived the Dutch of the ability to really pressure the Czechs on the wings.
“The Czechs played well,” Hiddink said. “We have to learn our lesson but it is too soon to analyse what happened. It (the winner) was an unlucky goal but the system doesn’t matter if you make individual mistakes.” The loss made Hiddink the first Dutch national manager to lose his first two games since his previous reign in 1995.
‘TACTICS NOT THE ISSUE’
An angry Guus Hiddink said the Dutch need to learn a lesson from the last-minute loss to the Czech Republic in their opening Euro 2016 qualifier during which the coach surprisingly stuck to a formation unpopular with his team.
“In the final seconds of a match you should never ever lose,” Hiddink said, referring to Janmaat’s header back to Jasper Cillessen that beat the Dutch custodian and rebounded off the post to Pilar who tucked the rebound into the net. “We were able to just walk out of here with a 1-1 draw. We gave it away so stupidly. When I talk about it now I get extremely angry again.”
In his second stint as Dutch coach, Hiddink elected to start with a more defensive system favoured by his predeccesor Louis van Gaal who guided the Netherlands to a third-place finish at the World Cup in Brazil.
The 3-5-2 system was ineffective, however, as the Czechs soaked up Dutch pressure and attacked on the break. The strategy paid off in the 22nd minute when Borek Dockal one-timed a thunderous left-footed shot from just outside the box into the net to give the home side a deserved lead.
Making his decision more surprising was Hiddink’s recent admission that a number of his senior players were asked to revert back to the more familiar 4-3-3 system despite a successful World Cup run under van Gaal, who stepped down to take charge of Manchester United.
Hiddink blamed individual mistakes rather than the formation, but it was clear the Dutch side were transformed after making changes five minutes before the half and notching the equalizer in the 55th minute on a Stefan de Vrij header. “After the first goal we reorganised our formation to 4-3-3, but at the end it was a really unlucky defeat for us,” Hiddink said. “It is very difficult to consider your tactical formation if your defenders make such mistakes.”
The Dutch coach will have plenty of time to rethink about his tactics ahead of the side’s next Euro qualifier when the Netherlands face Kazakhstan on October 10 at home.