They’re through to the final! The Netherlands will be playing in Porto on Sunday for the coveted first Nations League trophy. Ronald Koeman’s team beat England 3-1 after extra time in a dramatic semi-final clash on Thursday. Goals by Matthijs de Ligt, Quincy Promes and an own goal by England gave the Netherlands the victory they needed to proceed to the final.
The semi-final against England at the Estádio D. Afonso Henriques in Guimaraes showed that the Netherlands are once again becoming a force to be reckoned with. It took some time for the match to get going, but it ended in high drama, with a late England goal ruled out for offside after a VAR review and the Netherlands scoring twice in extra time. It was a clash between two well-matched sides who gave everything to proceed to the first Nations League final.
The kick-off came after a moment of silence was observed to mark the passing of former UEFA President Lennart Johansson. The first chance was for the men in orange, who steadily gained control over the match until young talent Matthijs de Ligt made a major defensive blunder after half an hour, conceding a penalty for tripping Marcus Rashford. The England striker put it away from the spot to give England the lead.
Chances were few and far between in the first half, but the game certainly gathered steam in the second period, with several scoring opportunities for both sides. Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman tried to turn the tide by substituting Ryan Babel and Marten de Roon by Quincy Promes and Donny van de Beek. The move had the desired effect. Four minutes later, the Netherlands levelled proceedings when De Ligt made amends to produce a powerful header into the back of the net from a Memphis Depay corner.
Just as the momentum seemed to go in their favour, the Dutch were saved by the VAR who ruled out for offside a late goal by substitute Jesse Lingard. Both sides did their utmost to avoid extra time, but their attempts at a late winner were to no avail.
With Davy Pröpper replacing Steven Bergwijn, the Oranje were the dominant force after regular playing time. They were simply fitter and hungrier than the Three Lions. In the end, England were punished for two colossal defensive blunders – by John Stones and Kyle Walker. On both occasions, Memphis Depay and Quincy Promes took advantage of the England mistakes to produce two more goals for the Netherlands, one an unfortunate own goal by Walker.
The Oranje now face Portugal in the final at the Estádio do Dragão in Porto at 20.45 CET on 9 June. Portugal beat Switzerland 3-1 on Wednesday thanks to a hat-trick by Cristiano Ronaldo. England and Switzerland will meet in the third-place play off in Guimaraes on Sunday at 15.00 CET.
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