The Netherlands’ hopes of a dramatic rescue act in Euro 2016 qualification evaporated as they conceded two first-half goals and eventually lost 3-2 at home to 10-man Czech Republic on Tuesday.
The Dutch, third at the World Cup in Brazil last year, had to win their final qualifier and hope Turkey lost at home to Iceland to sneak into third place in Group A and book a slot in next month’s playoffs.
However, the defeat consigned the Netherlands to fourth spot behind the Turks, who won 1-0 and secured a place in next month’s playoffs, while the Czechs topped the group.
A second half change in tactics by the Dutch to full-out attack failed to turn around a dire situation despite the Czechs being down to 10 men after the sending off of Marek Suchy just before halftime for a last-man tackle.
Goals from Pavel Kaderabek and Josef Sural stunned the hosts in the first period and the game was over when substitute Robin van Persie headed into his own net in the 66th minute. The Dutch consolation goals came from Klaas-an Huntelaar and Van Persie.
The Netherlands were crowned European champions in 1988 and were third in 1992, 2000 and 2004. They went out at the group stage of the last edition in Poland and Ukraine in 2012.