Netherlands may have just sent a message to potential rivals at Euro 2020 after they wrapped up Group C with a convincing 3-0 victory over North Macedonia in Amsterdam.
There was a sense of freedom about this game from the off, with the Dutch already through as group winners and North Macedonia's fate sealed too after two defeats. The underdogs thought they had taken a ninth-minute lead when Ivan Trichkovski finished after being played in by Goran Pandev, only to be disappointed by the most marginal of offside calls.
Aleksandar Trajkovski then struck the post after more link up with Pandev, who was playing the final international match of his career. But from then, Netherlands took control; Georginio Wijnaldum and Ryan Gravenberch's movement were causing problems.
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They broke from a hard but fair challenge by Daley Blind on Pandev. Memphis Depay drove forward and found his strike partner Donyell Malen, who cut the ball back to him in the area for Barcelona's latest signing to finish.
Depay continued to be lively, but on the half-hour mark, right-wingback Denzel Dumfries almost scored for the third time this summer. He saw his shot saved brilliantly by Stole Dimitrievski.
Matthijs de Ligt thought he had added a second for Frank de Boer's side, but Trinchkovski cleared off the line to deny him brilliantly. By the hour, Wijnaldum had scored twice from close range after linking up with Depay, and shot over the bar after another late run, narrowly missing out on his hat-trick. North Macedonia's race was run.
Substitute Wout Weghurst crashed a shot against the bar with his first touch after replacing Depay just over 20 minutes from time, before Pandev bid an emotional farewell to international football when he was brought off.
Memphis Depay, Netherlands
Image credit: Getty Images
TALKING POINT - Have Netherlands made themselves contenders
Nobody really expected De Boer's men to make any sort of impact this summer after a difficult first year in charge for the former Ajax boss. Without Virgil van Dijk, they were missing a leader and a world class player, and their group was dismissed as easy. But they can only beat what is in front of them and they have done that in style. Depay and Wijnaldum are stepping up and look capable. Bigger tests are almost certainly on the horizon, but perhaps Netherlands deserve more respect.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Georginio Wijnaldum (Netherlands)
This has been his tournament so far. Wijnaldum is already showing what Liverpool will be missing and Paris Saint-Germain will be gaining next season. He looks every inch the talisman this team needs; his movement for both goals was superb and he has continuously impressed so far. If there is to be a successful Dutch team this summer, Wijnaldum is sure to be at its heart.
North Macedonia: Dimitrievski 6, Velkovski 5, Ristovski 5, Musliu 6, Alioski 6, Elmas 6, Trichkovski 6, Bardhi 6, Trajkovski 7, Ademi 5, Pandev 7 Substitutes: Churlinov 5, Hasani 5, Kostadinov 5, Nikolov n/a, Stojanovski n/a
Netherlands: Stekelenburg 5, van Aanholt 5, Blind 5, de Vrij 6, de Ligt 6, Dumfries 6, de Jong 7, Gravenberch 6, Wijnaldum 8, Depay 7, Malen 7 Substitutes: Timber 7, Berghuis 6, Weghorst 6, Promes 6, Gakpo n/a
9' - GOA....NO! Trinchkovski finishes after linking up with Pandev, but he is offside.
21' - POST! Trajkovski strikes the woodwork with a great effort! Superb link up with Pandev. No surprise he is involved at every turn.
24' - GOAL! North Macedonia 1-0 Netherlands (Depay): Depay finishes off a lovely move. Led with Malen, who laid in on a plate.
30' - SAVE! Dimitrievski denies Dumfries a third goals in as many games from point-blank range.
51' - GOAL! North Macedonia 2-0 Netherlands (Wijnaldum). There is the second for the Dutch, and it is Wijnaldum. Brilliant movement to meet Depay's cross for a tap-in.
58' - GOAL! North Macedonia 3-0 Netherlands (Wijnaldum). Wijnaldum is there again. He knows where to stand and collects the rebound from Depay's original strike.
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