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Euro 2024: Wout Weghorst breaks Poland’s hearts with late winning goal for the Netherlands

By Matias Grez, CNN

(CNN) — Wout Weghorst scored less than two minutes after coming on as a substitute to earn the Netherlands an important 2-1 win in the opening game of Group D at Euro 2024.

Poland took a surprise lead after only 16 minutes thanks to Adam Buksa’s header, but the Netherlands deservedly leveled the scores less than 15 minutes later after Cody Gakpo’s deflected shot flew past Wojciech Szczęsny.

It was a closer game than perhaps many would have expected and Poland caused the Oranje problems throughout, in particular in the second half.

However, without the injured Robert Lewandowski, Poland missed a number of opportunites to take the lead in the second half, allowing Netherlands substitute Weghorst to make himself the hero with practically his first touch of the game.

It was another huge international goal for Weghorst, who stunned Argentina at the World Cup in 2022 with a late equalizer in the quarterfinals, as the Netherlands next face the tough test of France.

After a dominant start from the Netherlands, Poland snatched the lead against the run of play through Buksa’s brilliant near-post header from Piotr Zielinski’s whipped corner.

That was Buksa’s seventh international goal in just 16 caps as he continues to be an adept deputy for injured talisman Lewandowski, who Poland is confident will be fit enough for the team’s second group game against Austria.

However, the Netherlands soon got the goal its early dominance deserved as Gakpo’s effort from outside the area took a fortuitous deflection and wrong-footed Szczęsny in the Poland goal.

Poland certainly grew into the first half, but the Netherlands will likely have been wondering how it wasn’t ahead when the referee blew for half-time after Memphis Depay and Gakpo missed brilliant chances.

The opening 20 minutes of the second period belonged to Poland, which must have wished that Lewandowski had been fit after squandering a number of good opportunities.

The Netherlands also missed chances in the second half in a game that was largely defined by profligacy in front of goal, but Weghorst produced a moment of quality when it mattered the most, getting across his defender to turn Nathan Ake’s deflected pass into the net to send the vast swathes of Dutch fans bedecked in orange shirts at Hamburg’s Volksparkstadion into a frenzy.

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