DUBLIN-- Wout Weghorst came off the bench to score a second-half winner as the Netherlands fought back from conceding an early goal to beat the Republic of Ireland 2-1 in their European Championship Group B qualifier on Sunday.
The Irish went ahead after four minutes when Adam Idah converted a penalty but the Dutch won a spot kick of their own which Cody Gakpo tucked away for the 19th-minute equaliser. Weghorst grabbed a second goal for the visitors at the Aviva Stadium after 56 minutes to move the Netherlands up to second in the standings on nine points, six behind leaders France but with a game in a hand. Greece are also on nine points after beating Gibraltar 5-0 at home on Sunday. Defeat for the Irish leaves them having lost four of their five qualifiers and with little chance of qualifying for next year’s finals in Germany, and with the future of coach Stephen Kenny in doubt. A horrific defensive mistake inside the first minute allowed Chiedozie Ogbene a chance to put Ireland into the lead but he hesitated too long and his effort was blocked.
Two minutes later, Dutch captain Virgil van Dijk gave away a penalty for a clumsy handball as he attempted to clear a corner and Idah put the home side ahead. They might have made it 2-0 in the 13th minute but Shane Duffy missed a headed chance at the back post from Ogbene’s cross. Denzel Dumfries broke through the middle in search of an equaliser in the 18th minute and had his feet taken out from under him by Irish goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, handing Gakpo the spot kick which he tucked away just wide of the goalkeeper. Bazunu made two key saves from Donyell Malen before the break but had no chance of stopping Weghorst, who had come on at the break, when he swung his feet on to Dumfries’s header to score from close range. Dumfries had provided assists on all of the Dutch side’s three goals against Greece in Eindhoven last Thursday and was again pivotal to their success on Sunday.