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    Simons goal at Euro 2024 ‘was valid’ – Van Dijk

    Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk has said Xavi Simons’ second-half goal against France should have stood and averted the first 0-0 draw of Uefa Euro 2024.

    Midfielder Simons thought he had put Oranje ahead at the Red Bull Arena, where the 21-year-old plays his club football for RB Leipzig.

    Van Dijk protested with referee Anthony Taylor but a lengthy Video Assistant Referee (VAR) check deemed Denzel Dumfries to have been blocking goalkeeper Mike Maignan in an offside position when Simons found the net with his strike.

    France v Netherlands: Point ‘a bonus’

    “In my opinion, Xavi Simons’ goal that was disallowed was a valid goal,” said Liverpool’s Van Dijk. “But one point is a bonus, we have to be that realistic.

    “We are playing against France, so I don’t think it is strange that you have difficulty in some phase of the match. The fighting spirit we have shown is very positive.”

    Tournament favourites France should have scored in either half through close-range chances for Antoine Griezmann, ending on an expected goals total of 1.42 to Oranje’s 0.33.

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    Both sides won their opening game and are on the brink of confirming qualification for the knockout stage after a match in which France striker Kylian Mbappe was an unused substitute because of a broken nose.

    “Now we are on four points and we continue towards Tuesday against Austria,” said Van Dijk. “We tried to remain compact at the back and still hurt France on the counter.

    “We almost succeeded a few times but we didn’t play it out well. We don’t lose and we still have everything in our own hands.”

    Netherlands 0-0 France

    The Netherlands’ defence received praise before the finals, while 21-year-old Bart Verbruggen applied the faintest of touches to help keep Griezmann’s second major chance out.

    Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper Verbruggen kept a clean sheet for the first time at a major tournament following the Netherlands’ opening 2-1 comeback win over Poland.

    “Bart kept well but I think we all defended well,” said Van Dijk, who will face opponents in Austria buoyed by a 3-1 win over Poland which knocked their opponents out of contention. “That’s where it ultimately starts.”

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