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European Championship | Semi-Finals
Jul 10, 2024 at 8pm UK

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Netherlands vs. England: Classic contests ahead of Euro 2024 semi-final

:Headline: Netherlands vs. England: Classic contests ahead of Euro 2024 semi-final:
Sports Mole looks at five classic contests between the Netherlands and England ahead of Wednesday's Euro 2024 semi-final.
Sports Mole

For the 23rd time in their long and illustrious histories, the Netherlands and England will clash in a men's football match on Wednesday evening, and few of their previous clashes have held as much significance as this one.

The victor of the titanic tie - kicking off at 8pm UK time at the Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund - will be rewarded with a coveted place in the Euro 2024 final, where either Spain or France will stand between them and the Henri Delaunay trophy.

While the Three Lions needed their penchant for penalties to come to the fore in a quarter-final shootout victory over Switzerland - thereby reaching their third semi-final from four tournaments under Gareth Southgate - Ronald Koeman's men came from behind to sink a bullish Turkey outfit 2-1 in the last eight.

Ahead of Wednesday's eagerly-awaited semi-final, Sports Mole picks out five classic matches between the Netherlands and England to whet your appetite even further.

England 1-3 Netherlands (Euro 88 Group Stage)

Emulating the luminaries of 1988 is the ultimate goal for the current Netherlands crop, and during Oranje's barnstorming run to European Championship glory in that tournament - also held in Germany - England were coincidentally one of their victims.

Wednesday's foes faced one another in their second Group 2 match after both suffering narrow 1-0 losses in their opening affairs, but thanks to an inspirational individual display from Marco van Basten, the Dutch demons were exorcised in Dusseldorf.

After both Glenn Hoddle and Gary Lineker struck the post for England, Van Basten's first arrived on the stroke of half time as he spun Tony Adams and fired home, but smart link-up play between Lineker and Bryan Robson saw the latter draw the Three Lions level early in the second period.

However, Sir Bobby Robson's men had merely prodded the Van Basten bear, as the talismanic Dutch attacker rifled in his second before completing his hat-trick in the 75th minute after England failed to deal with a corner.

That beatdown still represents England's joint-heaviest loss in the men's Euros - they were defeated by the same scoreline against the Soviet Union just days later - but more desirable record was set by a 38-year-old Peter Shilton, who became the oldest Englishman to ever play at the European Championship.

England 8-2 Netherlands (International Friendly | Nov 27, 1946)

A scoreline that is perhaps best associated with Manchester United's destruction of Arsenal in 2011 or Bayern Munich's pummelling of Barcelona in 2020, England also struck 80% of the goals in just their second-ever professional meeting with the Netherlands.

Held at the old Leeds Road in Huddersfield, a 32,000-strong crowd arrived to witness Walter Winterbottom's England demolish the Dutch in a 10-goal friendly spectacular, in which Tommy Lawton ended the game with four goals to his name.

Raich Carter also helped himself to a brace, while Wilf Mannion and the late great Tom Finney - who scored just his third goal for the national team - also contributed to the 8-2 rout.

That Three Lions lashing unsurprisingly remains the biggest margin of victory in any men's match involving England or the Netherlands, who had to wait until 1977 for their maiden success over the Euro 2020 runners-up.

Netherlands 3-1 England (Nations League Semi-Final | June 6, 2019)

The most recent battle between England and the Netherlands - and one in which Southgate and Koeman were both in the dugouts for - was a tale of redemption for one Dutch defender and a story of woe for those in white shirts.

After a sleeping Matthijs de Ligt conceded a first-half penalty for Marcus Rashford to dispatch, the former Ajax protege towered above his opponents to head Oranje level 17 minutes before the end of normal time, forcing an extra 30 in the process.

While he has come on leaps and bounds since, John Stones was at fault for a Kyle Walker own goal in the 97th minute - dilly-dallying with the ball inside his own penalty area and allowing Memphis Depay to nip in and cross for Quincy Promes, who forced the ball over with the aid of a significant Walker deflection.

With six minutes of the 120 remaining, Stones then played a pass out from the back to an under-pressure Ross Barkley, who cheaply gave possession back to Depay and helplessly watched the ex-Barcelona man square for Promes to tap into an empty net.

However, an error-strewn England - who also had a Jesse Lingard strike disallowed for a marginal offside - actually ended the tournament on a higher note, ironically beating Switzerland on penalties in the third-placed playoff while the Netherlands were bested by Portugal in the final.

Netherlands 1-4 England (Euro 96 Group Stage)

Eight years on from the Van Basten masterclass at Euro 88, the perfect opportunity for revenge arose for England at their home Championships in 1996, where they would find themselves drawn against the Netherlands in the group phase once more.

Tied on four points apiece heading into their closing contest, a new-look England side - albeit one still with Adams at the defensive helm - were in the ascendancy at half time, as the skilful Paul Ince won a penalty for Alan Shearer to smash home.

The Wembley floodgates well and truly opened after the break, as a brilliant Teddy Sheringham header doubled the Three Lions' advantage, before both he and Shearer completed their braces to put England out of sight, both in the game and in the group.

Patrick Kluivert did at least manage to nab a Netherlands consolation from a tight angle, but there was no stopping the Three Lions cruising to their joint-biggest win at the Championships, albeit one that preceded all-too familiar penalty heartbreak in the final four.

England 2-3 Netherlands (International Friendly | Feb 29, 2012)

Otherwise known as the night that Arjen Robben made Wembley Stadium his playground, England welcomed the 2010 World Cup runners-up to their headquarters for a five-goal friendly extravaganza in 2012, in what was Stuart Pearce's only match as caretaker manager of the Three Lions.

In dire need of some inspiration after Fabio Capello's bitter resignation, Pearce fielded a hotchpotch England team captained by Scott Parker and spearheaded by Danny Welbeck, and there were no goals to be had in a low-key first half.

Oranje quickly asserted their authority in the second, where Robben's scintillating solo run ended with a deserved goal for the erstwhile Bayern Munich winger, before Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was involved in a nasty clash of heads with Chris Smalling, but not without nodding in the Netherlands' second.

However, an unexpected stalemate appeared to be on the cards when Gary Cahill and Ashley Young dramatically struck inside the final five minutes, but a stellar England comeback was rendered meaningless by the magical left foot of Robben, who curled an exquisite injury-time winner into the top corner beyond Joe Hart's futile reach.

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