With the 2016 European Championships expanding from the usual 16 teams to 24, it should have been a given that the Netherlands would qualify. They finished third at last year’s World Cup, and boast a roster full of future stars and Champions League veterans. Yet going into today’s final group qualifying match against the Czech Republic, the Netherlands needed a win and some help from Iceland to make it to a two-game playoff.
Spoiler alert: They didn’t make it.
Instead, in the most important game they’ll have for almost a year, the Dutch gave up two first half goals. And in the second half, on a Czech Republic free kick, Robin Van Persie did this:
Klaas Jan Huntelaar got one back four minutes later, and van Persie added another in the 83rd minute (as well as picking up a yellow card for a dive) but it wasn’t enough, and the Netherlands lost 3-2. Turkey beat Iceland too.
Here’s a list of tiny nations with unspectacular soccer histories who have qualified for next year’s tournament: Iceland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Albania. Somehow they all made it, and the Netherlands didn’t.