Depay, Wijnaldum score, Netherlands beat Macedonia 3-0
AMSTERDAM (AP) – Memphis Depay scored one, he prepared Georginio Wijnaldum for the next two, and the Netherlands made it three of three.
The Dutch team finished the European Championship group stage with a 3-0 victory over North Macedonia on Monday, the second team in the tournament after Italy to win their first three matches.
Depay, who just signed for Barcelona, scored the opening goal after a skillful 24-minute counterattack. He then passed to Wijnaldum for a goal scored in the 51st, and seven minutes later goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski saved a Depay shot that Wijnaldum placed in the roof of the net after the rebound.
The Netherlands had already won the group before the game and North Macedonia were already eliminated after losing their first two matches in their first major tournament.
The match at the Johan Cruyff Arena was the 122nd and final international game for North Macedonian captain Goran Pandev. His teammates formed a guard of honor and the crowd gave him a standing ovation as he was substituted in the 69th minute.
North Macedonia created the best chances ahead of Depay’s goal.
Ivan Trickovski slipped a low shot into the corner of the net in the ninth minute, but the goal was called off for offside. And in the 22nd, Aleksandar Trajkovski hit the post with a shot from outside the box after being set up by Pandev.
The Dutch took the lead two minutes later. Daley Blind tackled Pandev just outside the Dutch penalty area and the new Dutch attacking partnership of Donyell Malen and Depay traded two passes in a quick counterattack that ended in a low shot from Depay past Dimitrievski . VAR checked Blind’s tackle and judged he had played the ball fairly.
In the second half, Netherlands coach Frank de Boer switched to the traditional Dutch formation of four defenders, three midfielders and three forwards. The change worked almost immediately with Wijnaldum scoring twice in seven minutes.
It was a disappointing end for Pandev, who started his international career in 2001 and scored 38 goals for his country.
Ahead of kick-off, Wijnaldum presented the veteran North Macedonian with an orange Netherlands jersey with the number 122 on the back to mark the final count of Pandev’s internationals.
The Netherlands now have to wait and see which team they face in the round of 16 on Sunday in Budapest. As the winner of Group C, the team will face the third in Group D, E or F.
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