Oranje relieved by 3-1 win over Northern Ireland after difficult EC qualifier

In a difficult match between Oranje and Northern Ireland in the Kuip in Rotterdam, the Dutch team booked an important victory in the final phase of the European Championship qualification on Thursday. Thanks to goals by substitute Luuk de Jong and Memphis Depay, Oranje won 3-1, putting the team in the lead of group C. The Dutch footballers and coach Ronald Koeman are relieved.

The Irishmen were first on the score board. Depay brought the score up to 1-1. The last two goals were scored in injury time, one by Depay, one by De Jong. 

"It went too slowly", coach Koeman said to NOS about the match. "You hope for better, especially in the first half. We were a bit sloppy." Oranje is strong, but let Northern Ireland get ahead of them, the coach said, but added: "That we turned it around wasn't luck, because that is not the first time either." 

"We showed our team spirit again after all. Credits to everyone. We always kept believing", the twice-scoring Depay said to the broadcaster. "It wasn't an easy match. The Northern Irish did well and, given their qualities, got the most out of it." 

"It's about time that I scored", De Jong said to NU.nl after the match. The 21-year-old footballer hasn't scored in seven matches with Sevilla. "This feels great. If you don't score for a while, you know it's being talked about. Of course you want to make a goal as quickly as possible. This is a boost."

"We did not play our best match, but this cycle is al about the three points. And we raked them in", captain Virgil van Dijk said to NOS.

Thanks to those three points, Oranje now leads group C with 12 points from five matches in the European Championship qualification. Northern Ireland and Germany both also have 12 points, but the Northern Irish played one match more. And the Dutch team is above the German team due to underlying results, according to NU.nl. The numbers one and two in each group directly qualify for the European Championship.