Matthijs De Ligt received a red card for a clumsy challenge as the Netherlands crashed out of Euro 2020 following a shock defeat to the Czech Republic in Budapest on Sunday.
Tomas Holes and Patrik Schick netted the goals for the Czechs, propelling Jaroslav Silhavy's team into the quarterfinals of a tournament for the first time since Euro 2012. Meanwhile the Netherlands will be cursing their early exit from a competition whose knockout draw seemed to set them up for a deep run. Instead it will be their conquerors who will face Denmark in Thursday's quarterfinal in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Memphis Depay picked up in the knockout rounds where he had left of in the group stage for the Netherlands, direct running off quick ball enough to ask questions even of a defense as well-drilled as the Czech Republic's. The Netherlands were electrifying at one end with Patrick van Aanholt and Denzel Dumfries bombing into space and stretching the Czech defense wide.
Yet at the other they were at the very least inviting, with those spaces the wing backs had left behind being purposefully exploited by the wide men in the opposing side.
Indeed the best chance of the first half fell to the Czechs, Atonin Barak finding space at the back post only for De Ligt to get across to deflect the shot over Maarten Stekelenburg's crossbar. His reign as hero of the Dutch defense was to be a brief one however.
It was in the space of a minute that the tournament seemed to pivot for the men in orange. One moment Donyell Malen was bursting in behind the Czech defense, looking to round Tomas Vaclik only for the goalkeeper to whip the ball off the feet of the former Arsenal striker. The moment the ball went up the other end De Ligt was struggling with its awkward bounce, falling to his knees and bringing Schick with him.
Referee Sergei Karasev's first instinct was that the challenge, inelegant rather than ill-natured, was only worthy of a yellow card but having consulted his pitch-side monitor he quickly came to the conclusion that the Juventus center back had denied Schick a clear goal-scoring opportunity. On that moment this game changed. Suddenly Dumfries was finding himself thrust into a defensive role, blocking Pavel Kaderabek's goal-bound shot just inside his own six-yard box. Stekelenburg was awkwardly spilling crosses and the Dutch, so composed on the ball with 11 men, could scarcely pass the ball out of their own third.
That error from the goalkeeper was emphatically punished, Tomas Kalas flicking the corner back into a dangerous area and Holes winning the second header and guiding the ball through the mass of Dutch bodies on the goal line.
The Netherlands never really looked like overcoming their deficit, De Boer turning to a string of long balls aimed up toward substitute Wout Weghorst, and were instead undone on the break as Holes squared for Schick to roll his fourth goal of the tournament into the bottom corner of the Dutch net.