For the first time in more than 30 years, the Netherlands has failed to qualify for the European Championships. The team crashed out in the qualifying round after a string of poor performances, including Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Czech Republic.
The team entered Tuesday’s game already with few hopes. Even if Der Oranje won, the team would still need Iceland to beat Turkey for a shot to make the next round. Alas, it was not meant to be.
The Czech side got off to a quick 2-0 lead with goals from Pavel Kaderabek in the 24th minute and Josef Sural in the 35th. Holland’s Robin Van Persie then sealed his team’s fate when he put the last point on the scoreboard for the Czech Republic with an own goal in the 66th minute.
Holland didn’t go down without a fight, however. In the last 20 minutes of regulation time, the team rallied to score twice. First up was Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who sent the ball to the back of the net in the 70th minute. Van Persie then made up for his earlier snafu and tapped in a goal in the 83rd minute, this time on the correct side of the field.
Despite the rally, soccer fans had a hard time grasping what they had just witnessed. Just over a year ago, the Netherlands beat soccer powerhouse Spain, 5-1, in the World Cup. They would finish third in the world tournament.
Now, they won’t even be contenders in Europe for the first time since 1984.