Late Sabitzer winner against the Dutch helps Austria top group

Scenes from Netherlands vs Austria (Image: Austria FA)

Marcel Sabitzer’s decisive strike secured Austria a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Netherlands on Tuesday, taking his team to the top of Euro 2024 Group D. The win placed Austria ahead of tournament favourites France and the Dutch. Despite all three teams advancing to the last 16, Austria’s energetic performance under Ralf Rangnick showcased their potential as one of the better under-rated teams in the competition.

The match began with an own goal by Donyell Malen, giving Austria an early lead. Cody Gakpo equalised for the Netherlands early in the second half. Romano Schmid then headed Austria back in front, but Memphis Depay soon restored parity. Ultimately, Sabitzer’s late goal clinched the win for Austria in a frenetic, back-and-forth encounter.

Rangnick made four changes to the Austrian line-up from their previous match against Poland, with key players like Gernot Trauner out due to injury and Christoph Baumgartner starting on the bench. On the Dutch side, coach Ronald Koeman made three changes from their goalless draw against France, including Malen in attack. Malen’s unfortunate own goal came when he tried to block Alexander Prass’ cross from reaching Marko Arnautovic.

The Netherlands had a chance to equalise swiftly, but Tijjani Reijnders missed a clear opportunity after combining with Gakpo. The Austrian fans, outnumbering the Dutch supporters in Berlin, cheered each successful pass from their team. Koeman, visibly frustrated, made an early substitution, bringing on Xavi Simons for Joey Veerman to inject creativity into the side.

Austria continued to press, with Bart Verbruggen saving a shot from Sabitzer, and Arnautovic narrowly missing from close range. The Dutch levelled the scores shortly after the second half began, with Simons setting up Gakpo for a curling finish past Austria’s goalkeeper Patrick Pentz.

Austria regained the lead in the 59th minute through Schmid’s header from a Florian Grillitsch cross, which Stefan de Vrij failed to clear off the line. The Dutch, looking for a quick response, brought on their super sub Wout Weghorst. His immediate impact helped Depay equalise again.

Sabitzer sealed Austria’s victory with a powerful shot at the near post, taking advantage of Virgil van Dijk playing him onside. Although substitute Baumgartner scored a disallowed goal for off-side, and Weghorst missed a late header, Austria held on for the win, leaving the Dutch dejected.