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Austria takes deserved lead over Netherlands at halftime


An early own goal from Donyell Malen has given Austria a deserved 1-0 lead over the Netherlands at halftime of their Group D finale from Berlin.

Should the current results hold, Austria will finish as group winner.

Ronald Koeman made two changes to the starting XI that took on France with Denzel Dumfries exiting for Lutsharel Geertruida and Malen coming in for Xavi Simons.

The latter change made an early impact, but not the kind Koeman had envisioned.

After a spell of sustained pressure to start the match, Austria were rewarded for their industry. In the sixth minute, Alexander Prass sent a cross into the area for Marko Arnautovic. Before it could get to him, though, a sliding Malen intervened and deflected it into Bart Verbruggen's net to make it 1-0.

It was the seventh own goal of Euro 2024. The actual race for the Golden Boot is led by four players on two goals.

The Oranje attempted to hit back in the 14th. Cody Gakpo and Tijjani Reijnders exchanged passes as they drove forward, but the Milan midfielder's effort from the penalty spot was tame and well wide.

In the 24th, Malen had a chance to redeem himself for his earlier error. After fine work from Memphis Depay, Reijnders sent Malen in alone on Patrick Pentz. With time and space, the Borussia Dortmund winger dragged his shot wide without trouble Pentz at all.

An impatient Koeman turned to his bench in the 34th to shake things up, bringing on Simons in place of PSV's Joey Veerman. Veerman was nine for 19 in pass attempts.

In the 37th, the Austrians should have doubled their lead. From a corner, Marcel Sabitzer sent in a fine strike from outside the the area that forced Verbruggen into a diving stop. The rebound pinballed around the area until it fell to Arnautovic, who was completely unmarked. In alone on Verbruggen, Arnautovic mishit his effort and it was easily turned aside. Arnautovic called for a penalty in the aftermath, but the referee wasn't interested.

A late chance for Memphis, where his looping header was barely cleared off of the line, wouldn't have counted anyway with the offside flag going up in the build-up.

The winners of Group D will meet the runner-ups in Group F on Tuesday.

The runners-up will take on the runners-up from Group D on Monday.