The Netherlands are through to the UEFA European Under-21 Championship semi-finals after defeating Russia with their biggest ever finals victory.
Georginio Wijnaldum opened the scoring six minutes before half-time with an eye-catching strike and the balance was further shifted in the Netherlands' favour when Nikita Chicherin was dismissed soon after the break. Luuk de Jong doubled the lead, and although Denis Cheryshev responded, Ola John got in on the Dutch act before substitutes Danny Hoesen and Leroy Fer finished the scoring in the last ten minutes. Spain's subsequent 1-0 win against Germany means the Netherlands are through from Group B and Russia are out regardless of Wednesday's results.
The Netherlands are enjoying themselves at these finals, no one more so than Wijnaldum. If not quite as dynamic and fluid as their first-half performance against Germany, the Jong Oranje were still composed and sharp in possession. It was by no means one-way traffic early on, though, as Russia, buoyed by the introduction of Alan Dzagoev and Fedor Smolov, played with noticeably more freedom and adventure than against Spain.
However, with Cor Pot's team enjoying the majority of possession, the better chances were coming at the other end. Russia had a warning when De Jong headed against a post from Adam Maher's corner, but could not be saved from another Wijnaldum solo special. The PSV Eindhoven winger picked up De Jong's lay-off and, as against Germany, drove at the opposition defence before rifling hard and low into the bottom corner, the ball taking the slightest deflection off Taras Burlak.
Russia continued to show flashes of promise, but Chicherin's dismissal for a trip on Maher was a body blow and the Dutch took advantage when De Jong sent Nikolai Zabolotni the wrong way in the 61st minute with a clever header from Marco van Ginkel's searching cross.
Nikolai Pisarev's side responded four minutes later when Dzagoev's header came off a post straight into the path of Cheryshev, but with Pot urging his team forward, the Netherlands soon re-established their two-goal cushion when John gambled on De Jong's flick-on and dinked over Zabolotni.
A similar finish gave Hoesen the fourth with his first touch after coming on, and Fer finished matters in added time. Pot's side, who inflicted the worst defeat on Russia in their U21 history, need just a point against Spain to finish top of the group thanks to their goal difference.
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