Austria clinch top spot in Group D in five-goal thriller

Berlin, (UNI) Austria secured their place in the Euro 2024 knockout stage as Group D winners after a thrilling encounter with the Netherlands here on Tuesday, ending with a 3-2 victory.

The stakes were high heading into the match, with both teams assured of progression but battling for top spot in the group. Austria took an early lead when Donyell Malen deflected Alexander Prass’ cross into his own net in the 6th minute, putting them ahead against the run of play.

Ralf Rangnick’s side continued to dominate, with Marcel Sabitzer and Marko Arnautovic coming close to extending their lead. However, the Netherlands responded strongly, equalizing early in the second half through Cody Gakpo after a swift counter-attack orchestrated by Lutsharel Geertruida and Xavi Simons.

Austria quickly regained their advantage when Romano Schmid headed in Florian Grillitsch’s cross, despite a deflection, in the 59th minute. The Dutch thought they had leveled through Memphis Depay’s volley, only for VAR to correctly overturn the goal for handball.

Austria capitalized on their fortune, with Sabitzer scoring a spectacular third goal from an acute angle in the 80th minute. Despite late chances for both sides, including a disallowed goal for Austria and missed header by the Netherlands’ Wout Weghorst, the score remained 3-2.

Austria’s victory, coupled with France’s draw against Poland, saw them finish atop Group D. They will face the runners-up of Group F in the round of 16, while France will take on the runners-up of Group E. The Netherlands, meanwhile, progress as one of the best third-placed teams, awaiting their opponent from Groups B, C, or E.

The result sets up an exciting knockout stage as the tournament continues to unfold.

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