The Netherlands suffered a shock last-16 exit from Euro 2020 at the hands of the Czech Republic – but one Dutchman felt the sense of responsibility of an early exit more than others.
With the team’s level at 0-0, Matthijs de Ligt was sent off in the second half for handball when he denied Patrik Schick a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Thirteen minutes after their talismanic young defender trudged off the pitch, the Netherlands were behind and they failed to respond.
Goals from Tomas Holes and Schick eventually did the damage but De Ligt faced up to the media afterward, saying “we basically lost the match because of what I did”.
“Of course, it feels bad. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have let the ball bounce,” he told Dutch public broadcaster NOS.
“I had it under control. The ball came and I let it bounce. I fell to the ground and got pushed, which made me use my hands.
“The moment changed the game and I feel responsible. I saw how the guys fought after and I’m proud of it. But I feel bad about the incident.”
De Ligt was given support by his manager Frank de Boer, who said “you can always blame it on me”.
“I am responsible at the end of day. I need to take a look in the mirror. I think this group can achieve everything but now the emotions are raw.
“We will have a big hangover. I will take this bitter pill tonight and afterward we will see what happens.”
But did the Netherlands show enough fight and were the Czechs tactically better?