Striker Wout Weghorst’s early goal ensured the Netherlands clinched a berth at next year’s European Championship as they beat Ireland 1-0 at the Johan Cruyff Arena on Saturday to finish second in Group B.
Weghorst broke free from just inside the Irish half and, despite options to his left, decided to steam straight towards goal and strike a rasping effort that crashed into the roof of the net after 12 minutes.
The win took the Dutch to 15 points, six behind group winners France — who have a 100% record after their seven group matches — but out of the reach of Greece in third place.
Ronald Koeman’s team finish their campaign on Tuesday away to Gibraltar, who were thrashed 14-0 by France in Nice on Saturday.
The injury-plagued Dutch, without many of their regulars, outplayed the Irish for most of the game and created several half chances but were unable to add to their lead, despite the best efforts of an attack led by Cody Gakpo.
Tijani Reijnders had his 52nd minute shot deflected onto the upright by goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu and there were some brave blocks from defenders to deny several Dutch shots at goal.
Ireland thought they had equalised when substitute Adam Idah’s shot spilt through keeper Bart Verbruggen’s hands with goal line technology confirming it had crossed the line in the 65th, but VAR found Idah was offside when he received the ball.
It was the only moment of excitement for the travelling support as the Irish, who finished on six points after six defeats in eight matches, rarely conjured up any chances.
It is expected to be the last competitive outing for manager Stephen Kenny, with Ireland playing a friendly against New Zealand in Dublin on Tuesday.
The Dutch have now qualified for their 11th European Championship.
“I think we can be proud of ourselves,” said captain Virgil van Dijk. “With all the injuries, we put on a good show.”
The defender said he hoped injured players like midfielder Frenkie de Jong and striker Memphis Depay would soon be back.
“I think we fought very well as a team and showed a lot of resilience. That bodes well. We can build on that. Hopefully the boys who are now injured can get fit and then it can be a great European Championship,” he added.