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Van der Hart and Netherlands remain positive

Goalkeeper Mickey van der Hart says that "belief in ourselves and confidence" will be the key as the Netherlands look to bounce back against Group A leaders Spain.

Netherlands goalkeeper Mickey van der Hart picks the ball out of the net against Portugal
Netherlands goalkeeper Mickey van der Hart picks the ball out of the net against Portugal ©Sportsfile

Goalkeeper Mickey van der Hart has told the Netherlands to believe in themselves as they seek to bounce back from Tuesday's heavy loss to Portugal and reach the UEFA European Under-19 Championship semi-finals.

The serene mood engendered by the matchday one victory over hosts Lithuania was abruptly ended as Wim van Zwam's team fell to a 4-1 defeat in their second fixture to slip behind the Portuguese in the Group A standings. "It's a tough loss for us," captain Van der Hart told UEFA.com. "Four-one is emphatic and we're very sad about it but we know we need to move on and forget about it as soon as possible – focus on the next game against Spain."

With the Dutch now level with Portugal on three points, three behind their final opponents, only a win on Friday against holders Spain – unbeaten in 15 competitive matches – will give them a realistic chance of marking their second tournament appearance with a first semi-final. Van der Hart admitted the manner of the Portugal reverse had come as a surprise. "It [was] very unexpected – we'd trained well and had a good feeling and a lot of confidence after the late winner against Lithuania. It's a big loss and it's tough but we have to look forward and that's what we'll be doing."

While Portugal's second goal came from a mix-up in the Netherlands defence, Van der Hart feels the Dutch failings were collective, adding: "Portugal's crosses were excellent and we had some trouble with them. It was difficult for us. I don't want to point out mistakes from our defenders because they also did very good things and we should be focusing on that.

"We're looking forward to the Spain match and we're confident we can get a result," continued the AFC Ajax goalkeeper, who wants his side to repeat their second-half showing against Portugal, although this time with an end product. "We have to play like we did in the first 15 or 20 minutes of the second half, because we created a lot of opportunities. That's the way we can beat Spain."

Against such formidable opposition, however – Spain having won the last two U19 titles to swell their collection to six triumphs in the competition's 11 previous editions – the Dutch also need to keep the faith and, as their captain noted, that could be decisive. "We have to believe in our own strength, that's the most important thing. If we have confidence, I think we'll be able to get a good result."

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