Netherlands wrapped up top spot in Group C with a 2-0 win against Austria on Thursday after North Macedonia had earlier exited the competition with a 2-1 defeat to Ukraine.
Having qualified for Euro 2020 via the bottom path of the UEFA Nations League, the odds were always stacked against North Macedonia in terms of progressing to the knockout stages.
Many neutrals questioned whether Igor Angelovski’s side would even score a goal at the competition, so by netting in both defeats to Austria and Ukraine, the Lynxes have already proven people wrong in that regard.
However, Angelovski would have been disappointed with his side’s defending when allowing Andriy Yarmolenko too much time and space to prod Ukraine ahead in the first half, with Roman Yaremchuk clinical for his side’s second.
Leeds United full-back Ezgjan Alioski scored from the rebound after missing a penalty prior to the hour mark to provide North Macedonia with hope of remaining in the competition, but despite plenty of huffing and puffing they were ultimately unable to break Andriy Shevchenko’s side’s door down.
Head-to-head rules mean that Angelovski’s outfit are now guaranteed to finish bottom of Group C, so they are simply playing for pride when they travel to Amsterdam to take on group winners Netherlands on Monday.
Netherlands will also head into Monday’s meeting with minimal pressure on their shoulders ahead of facing one of the four best third-placed sides in the last 16 in Budapest on June 27.
Frank de Boer’s side were impressive once again when defeating Austria 2-0 on Thursday, with Memphis Depay’s first-half penalty backed up by another second-half strike from the marauding wing-back Denzel Dumfries, who has been one of the standout players of the tournament so far.
Defensively, Oranje looked much stronger with Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt back in the heart of the back three after the 21-year-old recovered from the groin injury which saw him miss out on Netherlands’ opening 3-2 win against Ukraine.
With top spot in the group already wrapped up, De Boer will be wrestling in his mind between continuing to build the momentum his team have built so far and resting key players ahead of the knockout stages.