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The Netherlands started with a 3-1 win over Croatia with Steven Bergwijn scoring twice in the Group B opener at the U-19 European Football Championship in Berlin, Germany.
The Dutchmen pressed Croatia from the starting whistle on Tuesday and they almost grabbed the lead five minutes into the game. But Croatia's goalkeeper Karlo Letica denied Sam Lammer's back-heel effort on target.
However, Letica was hapless 10 minutes later when Lammer's pinpoint cross to the far post found Bergwijn, who headed home the opener.
Letica had his hands full in the first half as Abdelhak Nouri and Jari Schuurman tested the goalkeeper many times. The Dutchmen' efforts paid out as Lammer doubled the lead from very close range after making use of Nouri's buildup work and square pass at the half-hour mark.
It looked like Aron Winter's men would take the two-goal advantage into the break but Croatia was able to reduce the arrears in the 43rd minute. Josip Brekalo cut inside from the left wing and unleashed a right-footed low shot beating goalie Yanick van Osch.
The Dutch team suffered another setback after the restart when Deyovaisio Zeefuik was sent off for his second bookable offence in the 53rd minute. Croatia capitalized on the advantage and pressed for the equalizer. But they were unable to overcome Netherlands' well-organized defence.
The Dutch restored the two-goal lead in the dying minutes with Bergwijn's second goal.
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