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Perfect Netherlands progress with Poland

The Netherlands made it three wins from three to book their ticket to the elite round as Group 3 winners, with mini-tournament hosts Poland also through as section runners-up.

Anass Achahbar (back) celebrates scoring the Netherlands'first gaol against Poland with Kyle Ebecilio
Anass Achahbar (back) celebrates scoring the Netherlands'first gaol against Poland with Kyle Ebecilio ©PZPN

The Netherlands secured top spot in qualifying round Group 3 with a trio of wins and can look forward to contesting the elite round along with section runners-up Poland.

The two teams locked horns to decide first place in their final outing and it was the Jong Oranje who celebrated success, prevailing 3-1 against the mini-tournament hosts. Before that, both managed to rack up a pair of victories, Anass Achahbar hitting the net twice as the Dutch kicked off with a 5-0 defeat of Malta. As for Poland, they began by overcoming San Marino 2-0, captain Tomasz Kędziora plundering a 49th-minute penalty before Piotr Zieliński registered close to full time.

Janusz Bialek's charges then followed up with a 5-0 win against Malta in Wronki, Zieliński finding the net again and Kamil Włodyka scoring in either half, in addition to efforts from Gracjan Horoszkiewicz and substitute Jakub Legierski. Over in Szamotuly, the Dutch continued their fine start by inflicting a 4-0 loss on San Marino, Achahbar notching a pair of first-half penalties before Kyle Ebecilio found the target and Queensy Menig rounded things off with three minutes to go.

Those results ensured progress for both the home side and Wim van Zwam's Netherlands, but top spot was up for grabs when they wrapped things up by meeting in Wronki. Poland opted for a counterattacking approach as the Jong Oranje dominated possession, and it was the visitors who went ahead when Achahbar buried his fifth goal in three games after 37 minutes.

Mariusz Stępiński levelled the scores midway through the second half, and both sides chased victory in the closing moments, with Martin Kobylanski firing just wide before the Dutch conjured two last-gasp efforts courtesy of substitute Nick de Bondt. Sent on with seven minutes to go, the 18-year-old struck twice with his left foot – once in the final minute and again seconds later – to maintain his team's perfect record.

In the section's other game, Malta defeated San Marino 4-0 to finish third. Despite ending on a high, however, they already know they are out of the running to progress as the third-placed team with the best record against the top pair in their group.