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Gakpo, Netherlands lead Romania at halftime


A 19th-minute goal from Cody Gakpo has given the Netherlands a 1-0 lead over Romania from Munich in their UEFA Euro 2024 Round of 16 tie.

After a bright start from Romania, the Netherlands turned on the jets as the half progressed and controlled the match past the opening minutes.

Ronald Koeman made three changes to the starting XI that loss 3-2 to Austria in their final group-stage match.

Ajax forward Steven Bergwijn was handed his first start and appearance of the tournament in place of Donyell Malen, while Inter's Denzel Dumfries returned in place of Lutsharel Geertruida of Feyenoord and Paris Saint-Germain's Xavi Simons came back for Joey Veerman of PSV.

Romania made two changes. With U Craiova's Nicusor Bancu unavailable due to booking suspension, CFR Cluj's Vasile Mogos entered the fray and FCB midfielder Florinel Coman was benched in favour of Parma's Dennis Man.

With Romania enjoying sustained pressure to start the match, it was the Oranje with the first chance. Simons hammered from distance, but it was directly Florin Nita.

Minutes later, it was Man who took his shot from well out. His powerful shot just cleared the crossbar, but managed to put fear into Bart Verbruggen in the 13th.

The Oranje grew into the match as it went on and they were rewarded in the 19th. Liverpool's Gakpo cut down the right, got a step on Andrei Ratiu and dragged his shot inside the near post. While the shot was powerful, questions will be asked of Nita who should have done better on the effort.

The goal was Gakpo's third of the tournament, tying him for the lead with Georges Mikautadze of Georgia, Germany's Jamal Musiala and Ivan Schranz of Slovakia.

The Netherlands probably could have been ahead by more with Dumfries a constant menace on the left. Tottenham Hotspur's Radu Dragusin made a fine intervention to prevent a chance from Memphis Depay in the 29th before a terrific interception in the 32rd to stop Memphis from reaching a cross from Dumfries. Without Dragusin's slide, the former Atletico man had a tap-in for a second goal.

In the 44th, it was Dumfries again. After forcing a turnover near the touchline, he found an unmarked Simons in front of goal, but his first touch was poor and the shot he eventually got off was dragged beyond the far post.

The only concern of Koeman at the half will be his team's inability to find that second goal.