MUNICH: Substitute Donyell Malen scored twice and Cody Gakpo got his third goal of Euro 2024 to help the Netherlands see off a spirited Romania and reach the quarter-finals of the tournament for the first time in 16 years.

Liverpool forward Gakpo opened the scoring with a brilliant finish midway through the first half, cutting inside before unleashing a drive into the bottom corner to spoil Romania’s first appearance in the knockout stage for 24 years .

The Netherlands missed numerous chances after that, but made sure they did not risk paying for it when substitute Malen stabbed in late on from Gakpo’s ball.

Malen then wrapped up an impressive win for the Netherlands, with Romania having committed players forward, as he charged in on goal before slotting home.

It was a much-improved performance from the Netherlands, who had to deal with early pressure from an enthusiastic Romania, who were backed by their loud and colourful fans.

Romania’s early pressing forced their opponents into mistakes and they gave them a scare when Dennis Man fizzed a shot just over.

But Gakpo’s goal changed the pattern of the game and they could have gone further ahead just before the break, but Xavi Simons somehow fired wide.

Romania again came out fighting in the second half but it was the Netherlands who continued to have the better chances as Memphis Depay failed to score from close range, Virgil van Dijk hit the post with a header and Gakpo’s shot after a driving run was pushed behind.

But Malen, who had come on at half-time, scored twice in the final 10 minutes to avoid any late drama, and the Netherlands can now look forward to facing either Turkey or a rematch with their group opponents Austria in the last eight.

The Netherlands made a decent start to the tournament with four points from two games ensuring their place in the last 16 with a match to spare.

But their performance in the 3-2 defeat by Austria in the third group games had set alarm bells ringing but after Gakpo’s goal they were at times brilliant, attacking with pace and precision that should have ben rewarded with even more goals.