Small margins cost the Netherlands dear according to their captain Abdelhak Nouri, who told UEFA.com: "We're out because of an 89th-minute goal and an own goal."
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The Netherlands were one goal away from reaching the semi-finals, and their captain Abdelhak Nouri admitted elimination following the draw with Spain in Veria was tough to take – but he will travel home having absorbed some invaluable lessons. UEFA.com spoke to the Ajax midfielder.
Nouri on... the Spain draw
It was a difficult game. We gave the game to Spain in the first half – we didn't play very well and let in a bad own goal for 1-0. In the second half, we were very strong and got a goal – but one wasn't enough. In the second half, we wanted it more. We realised a 1-0 defeat would knock us out of the tournament and we didn't want to go home. That made us stronger.
Nouri on... his performance
In the first half I could have been better. I like to move the ball quickly and in the first half we didn't do that as a team – instead we let Spain do that. In the second half we played more long balls towards the front players and it was my job to fight for the second balls. Sometimes that goes for you and sometimes not.
Nouri on... Spain
I enjoyed playing against them – they're a good team and they have good individual players. I like Spain but it was very bad for us because we could have won.
Nouri on... the Netherlands raising their game
In the first half, we weren't strong enough mentally. At half-time the coach was very angry and he told us so – and that woke us up. Then we started to fight more, but it's very late to fight in the second half. He was angry about the team and how we started – we didn't play with flair. We were a little bit scared and kept playing the ball back, back, when we needed to go forwards. In the second half, we showed how we can play.
Nouri on... the finals campaign.
We played well against Russia and won that; Germany was a difficult game, either side could have won but they scored in the last minute and that's very hard to take. We're out of the tournament because of a goal in the 89th minute and an own goal, and that's really tough. We're sick now. We were almost into the semi-finals; that's hard.
Nouri on... what he will take from Greece
We've learned that you can't start games like you might in the Netherlands – this is top-level competition. You have to be strong from the beginning. If you aren't, you pay the price.
Nouri on... what comes next
Now I go home and start the season with my club. I have to do well there and use what I've learned here to develop. I have to do better and better and keep improving.