The Republic of Ireland's disappointing Euro 2024 campaign ended in defeat, as Stephen Kenny’s side were outclassed by a dominant Dutch unit at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam.
It took the home side just 12 minutes to take control of the contest as Wout Weghorst’s fine individual effort handed the Netherlands an early lead.
And only for the profligacy of Ronald Koeman’s side, Ireland could have ended up on the end of a hammering as they somehow managed to limit the damage to a solitary goal at the Amsterdam arena.
It was actually a bright start from Ireland as they looked to get forward from the opening exchanges, and they created an early chance amidst a casual start from the home side.
But that fifth-minute Alan Browne shot was easily saved. It came from sloppy Dutch play out of defence as an intercepted pass popped up for Callum Robinson to help inside to the incoming Preston man.
Browne caught the ball well on the half-volley with the outside of the right foot but unfortunately the ball flew straight at the keeper.
That sparked the home side into life as they pressed Ireland high up the pitch as Browne was disposed ten yards outside the penalty area.
Xavi Simons was quickly onto the loose ball and worked the space to hit an effort from outside the box, however, it failed to hit the target.
Ireland were employing a high line in defence, confident of tracking anything in behind as Doherty continued to venture forward up the right flank.
But just when Ireland were looking comfortable in possession and gaining confidence going forward, disaster struck, as Weghorst crashed home the opening goal in the 12th minute of the game.
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The high line was breached as Nathan Collins was way-too-easily turned just inside the Ireland half, allowing the big striker to race all the way into the box before slamming a fine finish into the top corner of Gavin Bazunu's near post.
Ireland looked for an immediate response but failed to penetrate that final third and the Dutch looked very comfortable, sitting back and breaking at pace, with Cody Gakpo also looking dangerous running at the visiting defence.
In the 23rd minute, the home side played the ball from back to front with a clueless Ireland formation unable to lay a glove on the ball. Fine intricate play followed on the edge of the box between Gakpo and Xavi Simons allowing the latter race in on goal.
Only for the alert Bazunu, the Dutchman would have the simplest of tasks but the keeper was quick off the mark and smothered the ball.
Just 25 minutes on the clock and already the Mexican Wave started to roll around the arena; perhaps the ultimate insult to this Ireland side.
However, it coincided with a brief spell of Ireland dominance as they camped inside the Dutch half, but again with little to show from their final ball.
Just a moment’s respite for the home side really as they kicked back into gear leaving Ireland chasing shadows as they played with real freedom showing great movement and understanding.
Gakpo was dropping off his marker at will and worked another chance at goal in the 37th minute, but his shot was sliced high and wide.
Two minutes later, Tijjani Reijnders hit from distance and while closer than his team-mate’s effort, it also failed to trouble Bazunu.
Desperate defending on the edge of the box prevented three more Dutch attacks and while effective, it showed up Ireland’s flawed shape; surely number two was only a matter of time.
A minute before the break, the Oranje attack barged through once again, as the ever-lively Reijnders worked a decent save from close range as Ireland craved the half-time break.
Another Weghorst effort from inside the box was thwarted en route to goal and as the resulting corner was cleared, the referee put Ireland out of their misery for 15 minutes, at least.
One change at the break, as Adam Idah was sent into attack in place of the ineffective Robinson.
But it took less than three minutes of the second half for the home side to work another chance on the Ireland goal, as Dumfries flew forward before sliding the ball across the face into the path of Simons.
The poked effort from close range may have been stopped by Bazunu but the keeper was not needed as the run of Gakpo actually prevented the effort from testing the keeper.
Three minutes later, Ireland were again in trouble as Bazunu was called into action to prevent first Weghorst and then Reijnders with the latter's effort worked onto the post before being cleared.
A moment of hope quickly evaporated after Ferguson did well to win the ball in an advanced position, however, the ball from Doherty that followed was weak and just emphasised the jaded Ireland performance thus far. Ferguson would then make way for Jamie McGrath.
Dumfries was enjoying the freedom of the right flank at this stage and his drilled effort across the face was batted out by Bazunu and subsequently cleared.
Remarkably, Ireland were almost level in the 59th minute as Idah raced clear before cutting inside to drill a shot at goal that squeezed under Bart Verbruggen.
However, the flag was quickly raised as Idah had just set off a split-second too early before Manning hit the forward pass, and was rightly adjudged offside.
But it was the confidence boost that the team needed, and it was an improved Ireland performance over the next few minutes with better play through the middle sending Josh Cullen forward and linking well with Idah who was proving more of a focal point than what was on show in the first half.
Dutch raid on the Irish goal ends with the ball coming off Cody Gakpo— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) November 18, 2023
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The Dutch were ever dangerous, however, and again had the Ireland defence scrambling backwards as Weghorst fed Gakpo who raced down the left flank.
The Liverpool man sent a teasing ball for Dumfries to attack but the right wing-back was just inches from connecting.
In the 71st minute Reijnders should have sealed the victory as he was perfectly played through just eight yards from goal, however, the midfielder tried to walk the ball in when he just had to hit it with only Bazunu to beat from close range.
It gave Ireland hope heading into the final 15 minutes, as somehow they were still involved in the contest, and the manager sent Mikey Johnston and Jayson Molumby into the action.
Johnston would work some magic in the 85th minute to win a free in an opportune position to slam a ball into a packed penalty area.
But for some reason, Ireland opted for something fancy, squaring to Manning 25 yards from goal and his low strike was never getting through the plethora of orange bodies in the box.
The Dutch then countered quickly and substitute Donyell Malen got in on the right to work Bazunu once more in the Ireland goal.
Five minutes of additional time handed Ireland the opportunity to put pressure on the penalty area for a grandstand finish, and while Collins managed to send a header goalwards from a set-piece, the looping effort landed on the roof of the net.
The clock finally ran out on the injury time, the campaign, and perhaps this latest era of Ireland’s international football team.
Netherlands: Bart Verbruggen; 4 Virgil van Dijk (capt), 6 Stefan de Vrij, 17 Daley Blind; 22 Denzel Dumfries, 12 Quilindschy Hartman, 14 Tijjani Reijnders (Teun Koopmeiners 90), 21 Jerdy Schouten (Marten de Roon 90); 10 Xavi Simons (Donyell Malen 80), 8 Cody Gakpo (Joey Veerman 70), 9 Wout Weghorst
Republic of Ireland: Gavin Bazunu; Dara O'Shea (Troy Parrott 90), Liam Scales, Nathan Collins; Matt Doherty (capt) (Mikey Johnston 77), Ryan Manning, Josh Cullen, Jason Knight (Jayson Molumby 77), Alan Browne; Callum Robinson (Adam Idah HT), Evan Ferguson (Jamie McGrath 55)
Referee: Marco Di Bello (ITA)