The Netherlands defeated Germany 3-0 on Saturday in their second Nations League match. The victory takes the Netherlands to runners-up position after France in League A Group 1 and Germany to the bottom of the table.
The 55,000 capacity crowd at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam witnessed a balanced and attractive first half in which Germany appeared to be gaining the upper hand until the 29th minute when the hosts scored the opener. It was Ryan Babel who headed a Memphis Depay corner against the crossbar before captain Virgil van Dijk nodded the rebound past Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Eleven minutes into the second half, Germany manager Joachim Löw attempted to turn the tide by bringing in Sané and Draxler for Müller and Can. The double substitution produced a flurry of chances for Germany. It also prompted Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman to substitute Bergwijn and Babel for Quincy Promes and Arnaut Danjuma Groeneveld.
"We have a lot of respect for Germany, who are a top-quality team, but we worked very hard to keep up the pressure and ultimately defeat them."
Koeman's tactical move failed to end German domination during the second period, but it also marked the start of a series of dangerous Dutch counter-attacks. One of these attacks produced the second goal for the Oranje in the 86th minute when Memphis tapped in a Promes cross from close range. The third goal for the Netherlands came two minutes into extra time when Liverpool striker Giorginio Wijnaldum surged past two German defenders to hammer home with a low strike.
“This feels good,” Virgil van Dijk told reporters after the match. “We have a lot of respect for Germany, who are a top-quality team, but we worked very hard to keep up the pressure and ultimately defeat them. We kept an eye on the second goal, because we knew that it would then be all over for Germany.”
Goodbye to Kuyt and VdV
After the match, the Netherlands squad and the capacity crowd in the Johan Cruijff ArenA paid tribute to two Dutch football legends: Rafael van der Vaart and Dirk Kuyt.
Van der Vaart (35) made his debut in October 2001 at the tender age of 18. He was summoned from the bench by the then national manager Louis van Gaal in a World Cup qualifier against Andorra. It was the start of a long international career in which VdV collected 109 caps and scored 25 goals. His last cap was in a friendly against Colombia in November 2013. Van der Vaart still plays professional football at Esbjerg fB in the Danish competition.
Dirk Kuyt (38) won his first cap in September 2004 when he was brought in as a substitute during a home match against Liechtenstein. The current coach of Feyenoord under-19 made a total of 104 appearances for the Netherlands during his illustrious ten-year international career. He scored 24 goals for Holland. Like Van der Vaart, Kuyt played at five key final tournaments.
Coming right after Saturday’s Nations League match, their farewell was part of a new set-up for iconic players who’ve retired from international football. There will be similar goodbye ceremonies for male players in even years; the odd years are reserved for the Orange Lionesses. In addition, there will be a new ceremony putting the most loyal supporters in the spotlight. Fans who have attended one hundred, two hundred or three hundred Netherlands matches will be honoured on the pitch after an international fixture. On Saturday, 13 supporters were given that privilege.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands squad will now travel on to Brussels where a friendly is scheduled against the Red Devils on Tuesday. The next UEFA Nations League match for the Netherlands will be at home against France on 16 November. The venue will be Feijenoord Stadium in Rotterdam.
Netherlands: Cillessen, Dumfries, De Ligt, Van Dijk, Blind, De Roon, Wijnaldum, De Jong, Babel, Depay, Bergwijn
Germany: Neuer: Hector, Ginter, Hummels, Boateng, Kroos, Kimmich, Can, Werner, Müller, Uth
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