A resilient Cymru side fell short to a late defeat against table-topping Netherlands in their penultimate UEFA U21 EURO Qualifying Round fixture.
An 86th minute header by defender Lutsharel Geertruida secured top spot of Group E in the UEFA U21 EURO Qualifying campaign for the Netherlands.
Cymru battled hard throughout the 90 minutes, having been on the end of a 5-0 defeat in the reverse fixture.
The hosts started on the front foot as a Rhys Hughes corner delivered into a dangerous area was nearly turned in by two players before the away side cleared.
The Netherlands were next to come close as Jurgen Ekkelenkamp fired a shot across goal which narrowly went wide of the far post.
Kenneth Taylor was next to trouble Cymru as he fired a low effort from range, but Nathan Shepperd caught the ball.
Erwin van de Looi’s side remained on the front foot as Brian Brobbey’s powerful run gave him an opportunity at goal inside the box before he shot over the crossbar.
Bayern Munich attacker Joshua Zirkzee played a perfect ball through to Quinten Timber whose left footed attempt went wide of the far post.
Cymru grew into the game midway through the first half, with Eli King and Luke Jephcott linking up on the left-hand side before the latter’s cross was cleared.
Terry Taylor played a fantastic cross-field pass into the path on Fin Stevens but his ball into the box was unable to find Jephcott.
The away side thought they had gone ahead on the brink of half time when a Kenneth Taylor chipped ball was turned in by Brobbey, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
Monaco attacker Myron Boadu came agonisingly close to opening the scoring early in the second half before being denied brilliantly in a one-on-one by Shepperd.
A dangerous cross by Wouter Burger almost forced Ryan Astley into scoring an own goal, but his backwards header narrowly went over the crossbar.
Timber proved to be a threat throughout the game, forcing Shepperd into making a diving save with an attempt from distance.
Moments later, the midfielder played a ball over the top which was met by Brobbey. The attacker’s first touch rolled out for a goal kick.
Kenneth Taylor got in-behind the Cymru defence and played a low cross in the direction of Brobbey, but Astley’s sliding tackle prevented a shot on goal.
Cymru were next to have opportunities to take the lead as a couple of chances fell to Jephcott. The first came as Hughes played the striker through before he fired an attempt at goal which was saved by Jay Gorter. Jephcott’s second chance came from outside of the box, with Gorter saving again.
Ekkelenkamp and Burger linked up on the edge of the box as the former’s shot on goal was blocked well by Astley.
The Netherlands continued their searched for an opener as Mitchel Bakker provided a dangerous cross towards the back post but Owen Beck chested the ball down to Shepperd.
Brobbey then failed to put his side ahead as the ball fell to him around the penalty box, but a miss-hit shot went wide of the post.
A Bakker cross found Brobbey in the box, whose header was saved comfortably by Shepperd.
The deadlock was broken with four minutes left of the 90 as a cross from the right-hand side was turned in by a powerful Geertruida header.
The visitors applied further pressure onto Cymru in the latter stages of the match, with blocks from Stevens and Astley keeping the deficit to one.
Paul Bodin’s side face Gibraltar in their final UEFA U21 Euro Qualifying tie on Tuesday.
CYMRU 0-1 NETHERLANDS
UEFA U21 CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING
- Saturday, 11 June 2022
- Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli
CYMRU XI: Nathan Shepperd, Fin Stevens, Owen Beck, Terry Taylor (C), Ryan Astley, Ed Turns, Sam Pearson (Joseph Evans 75’), Eli King, Luke Jephcott (Chris Popov 65’), Rhys Hughes (Oliver Hammond 80’), Elliot Thorpe (Patrick Jones 65’).
MANAGER: Paul Bodin.
YELLOW CARDS: Rhys Hughes (48’)
NETHERLANDS XI: Jay Gorter, Lutsharel Geertruida, Sven Botman (C) (Micky van de Ven (46’), Mitchel Bakker, Devyne Rensch (Milan Van Ewijk 65’), Jurgen Ekkelenkamp, Quinten Timber (Elayis Tavsan 65’), Brian Brobbey, Kenneth Taylor, Joshua Zirkzee (Myron Boadu 46’), Wouter Burger (Daishawn Redan 78’).
MANAGER: Erwin van de Looi.
GOALS: Lutsharel Geertruida
YELLOW CARDS: None.
RED CARDS: None.
Referee: David Šmajc (SVN) Assistant referees: David Gabrovec (SVN), Tomaž Cerne (SVN) Fourth official: Dejan Balazic.