Netherlands exit with a whimper

The Netherlands have not missed a major tournament since the 2002 World Cup and have not missed a European Championship since 1984, when it was also held in France.

The Netherlands finished fourth in their group behind Turkey, Iceland and the Czech Republic.   -  REUTERS

Croatia and Turkey clinched the final automatic qualifying places for Euro 2016 on Tuesday as the Netherlands, semi-finalists at last year's World Cup, were eliminated.

Turkey beat Iceland 1-0 in Konya thanks to a late Selcuk Inan free-kick to secure third-place in qualifying Group A ahead of the Dutch, who lost 3-2 at home to the Czech Republic. And for Turkey, the win coupled with a 1-0 victory for Kazakhstan in Latvia, saw them secure automatic qualification for the finals in France as the best third-placed side.

That condemned Hungary, who had been seconds away from advancing as the best third-placed side, to a place in next month's play-offs.

The Netherlands have not missed a major tournament since the 2002 World Cup and have not missed a European Championship since 1984, when it was also held in France.

Meanwhile, Croatia clinched automatic qualification after a 1-0 win in Malta saw them take second place in qualifying Group H. Ivan Perisic scored the only goal of the game for the visitors in Malta to allow them to leapfrog Norway, who lost 2-1 away to already-qualified Italy.

Norway will have to settle for a place in next month's play-offs, the draw for which will be made on Sunday.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, Ireland, Slovenia, Sweden and Denmark will also enter the draw for the play-offs.