A heartbroken Matthijs de Ligt has accepted that the Netherlands' shock Euro 2020 exit at the hands of the Czech Republic was down to his decision to handle the ball, which resulted in him receiving a costly red card.
The 21-year-old was enjoying a solid game with the scores locked at 0-0, but that all changed on 52 minutes, when the Dutchman hesitated in possession, slipped and pushed the ball away from the onrushing Patrik Schick with his hand.
The referee initially awarded a yellow card for the infringement, but VAR intervened, and suggested the official should check the incident on the touchline monitor. Official Sergei Karasev reviewed the offence, opted to reverse his decision and instead handed De Ligt his marching orders.
The Juventus starlet was devastated as he left the field, and his poor decision caused even graver consequences, as the Netherlands collapsed to a 2-0 defeat to the Czechs, crashing out of Euro 2020 at the round of 16 stage.
De Ligt faced the cameras at the end of the match, and he admitted that the red card and early exit 'hurts', while Holland had been eliminated 'because of' his actions.
“Obviously, it hurts,” De Ligt told NOS TV.
“Fundamentally, we lost the game because of what I did. With hindsight, I shouldn’t have let the ball bounce. I felt like we had the game under control and had a few chances, especially in the first half.
“I didn’t even have the sensation that the Czechs were creating many scoring opportunities, but obviously the red card made the difference.”
The Czech Republic capitalised on their one-man advantage 17 minutes after De Ligt's red card, when Tomas Holes headed home a well-worked set piece. Schick wrapped up a famous victory for the underdogs, sending a shellshocked Netherlands home in the process.