Van Amersfoort heads Netherlands to Russia win
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Netherlands 1-0 Russia
Pelle van Amersfoort scored the only goal of the first Group B game, finding the net for Aron Winter's side with a 44th-minute header.
Article top media content
• Netherlands beat Russia by single goal in Larissa
• Pelle van Amersfoort heads only goal of first Group B game (44)
• Russia centre-back Aleksandr Likhachev dismissed for two yellow cards (62)
• Next games: Spain v Russia, Germany v Netherlands (10 July)
The Netherlands got their UEFA European Under-19 Championship campaign off to a winning start as striker Pelle van Amersfoort headed the only goal of a tight contest.
Russia striker Rami Sheydaev finished as the top scorer in qualifying with ten goals and might have added to that tally twice within the first four minutes, failing to get sufficient connection on right-wing crosses from Ayaz Guliev and Aleksandr Golovin.
The Netherlands could have had two goals themselves in the opening ten minutes. First Bilal Ould-Chikh raced down the right and picked out Abdelhak Nouri, but the captain smashed wide. Ould-Chikh then tried his luck himself, sending a shot flashing just past the upright.
Chances continued to come thick and fast, Van Amersfoort setting up Ould-Chikh for a measured effort that missed the far post. Georgi Melkadze was then equally wayward at the other end having broken through Damon Mirani's challenge.
Joël Drommel produced a fingertip stop from Golovin's low free-kick to keep the scoresheet blank – but the Dutch would change that before half-time. Ould-Chikh had been at the heart of many of their best moves in the first half and his free-kick picked out Van Amersfoort, who rose highest to nod past Anton Mitryushkin.
Parity might have been restored early in the second period as Dutch centre-back Terry Lartey Sanniez was robbed by Melkadze. The midfielder pulled back for Sheydaev, who powered his shot off the crossbar.
Russia centre-back Aleksandr Likhachev collected his second yellow card in the 62nd minute and Nouri nearly made the game safe, his lob landing on the roof of the net. Mitryushkin kept out a fierce drive from substitute Issa Kallon and then denied the same player in a one-on-one in the final seconds, but the Netherlands, whose only previous U19 finals appearances in 2010 and 2013 ended in the group stage, had done enough to open their latest campaign with a win.
Netherlands coach Aron Winter
It's always nice to win the first game because you work for it. We started preparing a month ago, and you're always looking forward to the first game. We didn't play the good football that would have made it easier to get the three points – but I'm happy that we played as a team, protected our lead until the end of the game and made sure we got the three points.
The first five or ten minutes of the game, it looked like we weren't ready for it as Russia had some opportunities but we'd prepared well and knew exactly the strengths and weaknesses of the opponents. We knew they'd press high in the first minutes – in every game the first 15 or 20 minutes are important. Most opponents want to surprise you. After that we always started to look for the free man in midfield, and that made life difficult for them.
Dmitri Khomukha, Russia coach
Congratulations to the Netherlands for the win. It was a difficult match for us – we had a lot of opportunities but didn't manage to score even one goal. We started well and we planned to play positive football – attacking football. After we lost one of our players to a red card it was hard to attack, especially in such weather conditions.
We lost first of all because we didn't take our chances. We had more chances than the Dutch but we didn't take any of them. [The suspended Dzhamaldin Khodzhaniyazov] was a big loss – if he'd played it would have been better, as he would have helped us going forward and he's also an excellent defender.