Super sub Wout Weghorst to the rescue for the Netherlands at Euro 2024

BERLIN (AP) — Where there’s a Wout, there’s a way.

A goal down at half-time in its European Championship quarterfinal against Turkey, the Netherlands turned to 1.97-meter-tall (6-foot-5) forward Wout Weghorst to dig it out of a hole.

Weghorst provided the key to unlocking the stubborn Turkish defense as his runs and height gave the frustrated Dutch attack a new outlet.

Weghorst went close to scoring himself before Stefan De Vrij equalized in the 70th, six minutes before Cody Gakpo forced an own goal from Mert Muldur.

The Netherlands’ 2-1 win sent the team through to a semifinal against England.

“Every attacking player in our squad has different qualities,” Gapko said. “But in this game, I think when we wanted to play a little bit more opportunistic and then, you know, you can bring Wout because he’s tall, he’s good in the air, he fights for every ball that comes in the box.”

Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman sent Weghorst on at the start of the second half with his team 1-0 down to Samet Akaydin’s 35th-minute header.

“We played some good crosses, and then you saw, the Turkish side dropping a little bit more so we could play better. Maybe that was the key today. I’m, very happy that Wout could be Wout today,” Gapko said.

Gapko was initially credited with his team’s second goal, but UEFA later ruled it was Muldur own goal. Both were trying to reach Denzel Dumfries’ low cross.

“It went in, so I’m OK with it. But if I touched it, I’m going to make a call,” Gapko joked. “No, it doesn’t matter. So, it went in. I think that’s the most important after this game. We fought really hard to make that come back and yeah, very happy with that.”

Netherlands defender Nathan Aké also lauded Weghorst’s impact.

“He gave us a presence in the box,” said Aké, who said Koeman had told the team at half-time to put more crosses into the penalty area, and faster than before.

“And that’s what we did a few times. And you get second balls and a little bit more of a scrimmage in the box. And I think because of that, you created a little bit more chaos in the box. And they have to defend more. So I think, he helped a lot,” Aké said of Weghorst.

“He’s a nightmare to play against. You know, he’s strong, he’s a nuisance in the box. And he fights for everything. He runs after everything. So, for us, he’s a great asset,” Aké said.

Weghorst spent last season on loan at Bundesliga team Hoffenheim, scoring seven goals in 28 league appearances. He previously had loan spells at Manchester United and at Turkish team Besiktas, after joining Burney from Wolfsburg in January 2022. He scored 70 goals in 144 games over 3½ seasons for Wolfsburg.

Weghorst has played in five matches for the Netherlands at Euro 2024, all as a substitute, but none for longer than he played against Turkey.

Koeman may be temped to play the 31-year-old forward from the start against England in Dortmund on Wednesday.


AP Euro 2024:

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