Van Dijk thrilled as the Netherlands end major-tournament absence by booking Euro 2020 spot

Holland clinched qualification for next summer's tournament after drawing away to Northern Ireland, and their captain vowed to savour the moment
Holland clinched qualification for next summer's tournament after drawing away to Northern Ireland, and their captain vowed to savour the moment

Virgil van Dijk said the Netherlands would enjoy the moment after qualifying for Euro 2020, ending a five-year wait for another appearance on the biggest stage.

The Dutch ended their self-inflicted exile from major tournament football, having failed to reach Euro 2016 or last year's World Cup, when a 0-0 draw away to Northern Ireland secured a top-two finish in Group C.

The Netherlands were without the injured Memphis Depay and carried little threat upfront in his absence, while Northern Ireland's Steven Davis missed a first-half penalty that would have ramped up pressure on Ronald Koeman's men.

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But in the end the visitors secured the primary objective for the night - the certainty they will be in next summer's 24-team European Championships.

Van Dijk, who won the Champions League with Liverpool last season, expressed his delight post-match to Dutch broadcaster NOS: "We're going to a tournament again. That's the most important thing.

"We wanted to win today and we had chances. We knew it would be difficult but in the end we qualified - how doesn't really matter very much.

"In the last 15 minutes, Northern Ireland started to play more directly, hoping for free-kicks and corners. It was up to us to stay sharp and we did very well at times.

"We are going to the European Championship, let's just enjoy it now. We will prepare ourselves well for that."

Northern Ireland can still qualify by the play-off route, while the Netherlands appear likely to finish as group runners-up behind Germany, whom they trail by two points.

The Germans round off their qualifying campaign with a home clash against Northern Ireland next Tuesday, on the same night Netherlands play host to Estonia.

Van Dijk will then return to Liverpool later in the week, with a crucial Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace on the cards at Selhurst Park on November 23.

 

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