"We all have to take a good, long look in the mirror," commented Rafael van der Vaart after the Netherlands exited UEFA EURO 2012 at the first hurdle following their 2-1 loss to Portugal.
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Among the pre-tournament favourites, the Netherlands are now heading home after the group stage following their 2-1 loss to Portugal – their third defeat in three games at UEFA EURO 2012. "We all have to take a good, long look in the mirror," said Rafael van der Vaart, who gave the Oranje hope with the opening goal in Kharkiv.
Rafael van der Vaart, Netherlands midfielder
We had some great chances at the beginning, but Portugal are a strong team. And if you need to score two goals, you need to create more chances. We lost three games and we didn't deserve to. You could say, 'You had so many chances' but we weren't able to do anything with those chances.
I knew it would be difficult. We had to score two goals. We started off really well and scored one goal, but we knew we had to score another one, so we got nervous. After our first goal, Portugal began to play very well, and we didn't. We all played badly; we all have to take a good, long look in the mirror. All we can say is that it's sad for our supporters.
We lost all confidence after losing the game against Denmark, and so today against Portugal we knew it could go wrong, and so it did. We have to start all over again.
Ron Vlaar, Netherlands defender
We started aggressively, had a lot of possession and we scored a good goal. That's what we needed – an early lead. And after that we at least had to try to maintain the tempo in the game because we had the advantage as we were the better team, only that didn't work out. We became less stable and that resulted in a few chances for them, and in the end in the equaliser.
I think we all need to take a good look at ourselves to see what went wrong, and to at least realise that this cannot happen again. But it did happen, so let this be a hard lesson. What can I say to the fans? Sorry that it didn't end up the way you expected, but it wasn't the way we expected either. That's very painful, but there's nothing we can do about it anymore and that's just the way it is.
I don't know if it's the end of an era. It's also not up to me to decide something like that. It will be something the coach needs to do. Some players are a bit older, but one thing is clear: there's enough quality within the squad, it just wasn't shown during this tournament.