Netherlands U19 1-0 Russia U19: van Amersfoort gives young Orange winning start
Photo: UEFA.com

Netherlands U19 took three points and kept a cleansheet against free-scoring Russia U19 in the opening game of Group B in the 2015 U19 European Championships.

Pelle van Amersfoort headed Bilal Ould-Chikh's lofted free-kick in with three minutes to go before half time and Russia's search for an equaliser was dented by the sending off of Aleksandr Likhachev with thirty minutes left.

Netherlands U19
Photo: UEFA.com

Russia start on top

Russia's top scorer in qualifying Rimel Sheydaev, with ten goals, had the first opportunity after Tarik Kada fouled Yakuba in the early minutes, yet he hit it wide of Joël Drommel's post.

Another early chance came for Russia, this time Zuev forced Drommel into a meaningless dive, hitting it wide once more.

Netherlands wake up to dominate attacking chances

The game picked up the pace in the fifth minute, as the Netherlands grew into it, realising their early complacency against a free-scoring Russian side would soon be capitalised on.

Abdelhak Nouri drove forward parallel with the powerful run of Bilal Ould-Chikh on the right flank before shooting first time wide of the right post.

Ould-Chikh himself followed that up with a similar curling effort from the opposite side of the box, as Nouri let it role through his legs into his teammate's feet. Again, he hit it wide of the right post though.

Melkadze had a shot deflected for a corner but Russia wasted the chance as the Netherlands dominated attacking chances, Ould-Chikh and Nouri often combining well, with Kada also holding up play for his two attacking partners.

Ould-Chikh had one chance blocked and another dribbled wide before Likhachev picked up a twentieth minute booking for a foul on van Amersfoort.

Nouri took a free-kick as Ould-Chikh was fouled but he couldn't produce the captain couldn't get the Netherlands advantage in terms of chances.

What Nouri couldn't do, Russia could. Zuev earned a free-kick for Golovin to force Dommel into a fantastic save. From extremely close range, often too close to provide a real chance, Golovin curled it beautifully on the floor around the Orange wall and Dommel dived quickly to his left to tip it just wide.

Netherlands lead thanks to headed free-kick before half-time

Van Amersfoort, heavily involved in the majority of the Netherlands attacks in the opening stages, got his name on the scoresheet just before half time.

Zuev gave away the free-kick from the right flank, in a position where a lofted ball into the area is the only option and van Amersfoort climbed above a poor Russian defence, in confusion over marking systems, and powerfully headed in Ould-Chikh's perfectly delivered free-kick past Anton Mitryushkin.

Rifat Zhemaletdinov, often the perfect partner for Sheydaev in qualifying for Russia, came on for Zuev, who had an average half aside from the free-kick given away which provided the Netherlands opener.

Netherlands waste early second half chances

Sheydaev had a brilliant chance to level things up but Dommel's crossbar stopped the half volley, that bounced too high for the top scorer to strike properly.

Owusu put in a strong challenge in the box after Sheydaev fooled his marker with a stepover and a dink to the right, but it was perfectly timed to prevent a prolific Sheydaev make up for his earlier missed chance.

Yet his excellent challenge saw him hobble off the pitch and collapse onto the ground such was the stretch he was at to nick the ball off Sheydaev. Augustine Loof was his replacement, but Owusu's contribution even in that single minute was enough to say he had a good game.

Despite two early second half chances for Russia, again the Netherlands looked patient on the ball as they happily sat on a 1-0 lead against a side now famous in the youth football world for their incredible scoring record.

Russia did have a goal disallowed, however. The corner came in well but the majority of the Russian side were climbing over their markers and the header hitting the back of the net came after the referee's whistle for a foul.

Issa Kallon came on for Ould-Chikh, the man with the assist for the Netherlands opener, as Aron Winter looked to keep his Netherlands side safe and not risk giving Russia the momentum with an equaliser.

Russia down to ten men with 30 minutes left

Yet just a minute later, Winter could relax slightly as Likhachev picked up his second booking for consistent fouls throughout his sixty minutes on the pitch.

Gasilin came on for Melkadze, Russia looking to ensure defensive stability remained while they searched for an equaliser with ten men.

Yet they didn't need to do too much defending, with the Netherlands getting worse following Russia's sending off. Whether it was complacency or a lack of motivation to find more goals, they looked a shadow of the team in the first half.

Russia couldn't produce clear chances themselves but looked like getting in the right positions, making runs down the flanks and had the potential to equalise, if not the chance.

Kenneth Paal did well on the right hand side, looping a cross to the far post from the corner of the box, which was headed back down for Nouri to blaze over as the Netherlands still couldn't take advantage of the extra man.

Nouri came off a couple of minutes after he missed the chance to make it a two goal difference with Ouwejan replacing him. Sheydaev, usually Russia's biggest threat, hadn't had a great 80 minutes so Ilmir Nurisov replaced him for the last ten.

The Netherlands captain coming off saw them with new energy, surprisingly, as Ouwejan had an effort blocked before Kallon forced Mitryushkin into a save.

Barinov had a shot blocked but patient play from the Netherlands, others would label it boring or a way of timewasting, stopped Russia from getting the chances required to finally take one.

Russia couldn't find any chances in the final minutes, only Netherlands' Kallon failing to wrap things up as Mitryushkin dived down well to save.

The result leaves Netherlands in good form ahead of the big match of the group stage against Germany, who play later tonight. Meanwhile, the squad who won the U17 European Championships two years ago have a losing start to the U19 European Championships, as Russia's search of a victory at this level takes a hit.

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