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Slovakia stun the Netherlands to seal top spot

Netherlands 0-1 Slovakia
Adam Zreľák's powerful header 18 minutes from time took the visitors past their opponents at the top of Group 3 and into the play-offs.

Adam Zreľák's fourth goal of the qualifying campaign was decisive
Adam Zreľák's fourth goal of the qualifying campaign was decisive ©SFZ

Adam Zreľák struck 18 minutes from time as Slovakia stunned the Netherlands to leapfrog their opponents at the Group 3 summit and book a place in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-offs.

The visitors, who began the last day two points adrift of the Jong Oranje, had enjoyed the better of a taut encounter but time and again Karim Rekik and goalkeeper Warner Hahn kept them at bay. Neither had an answer to Zreľák's bullet header, though, as the forward met a beautiful cross from the left with an effort that went in off the crossbar.

The Netherlands, who were unbeaten in this campaign before losing 1-0 to Georgia on Thursday, pushed for an equaliser but Daley Sinkgraven's weak late shot was as close as they came. Slovakia are into Friday's play-off draw; the Dutch, two-time champions, will have to wait and see if they join them as one of the best four group runners-up.

"We only needed one point and we just gave it away," rued captain Marco van Ginkel. "It's about time we all took a good look at ourselves because this is just awful. I don't think I've ever experienced a match as poor as the one we played tonight."