Van Dijk leads the Netherlands to the quarter-finals
The promising “derby” between the Netherlands and Belgium did not do justice to the high expectations that it generated. Passage to the ‘final four’ of the Nations League was at stake, but the punished Roberto Martinez’s pupils – they needed to win by three goals or more – could not believe it and the ‘Portuguese’ never saw leading the group in Danger 4. He also did not want to take the risk. However, they ended up winning 1-0 thanks to an accurate header from Virgil van Dijk and will fight for the Nations League title.
Belgium, led by Eden Hazard and De Bruyne, started better. In fact, Hazard shined with his first great opportunity in the 4th minute. The madridista received from the front after a good attack from Onana from the right side … but he was clouded. Hazard, as is almost always the case when he plays for his country, was very involved. They stopped him over and over again, and were almost always wrong. Up to six times it was shot down.
The best chance in the first half, however, was for Axel Witsel in the 32nd minute. The Atlético footballer was just a few centimeters away from putting in an unusual shot from De Bruyne on the defence.
Kastani also forgave 0-1 at 34 minutes. The Leicester winger/winner failed to take advantage of a poor loan from Dumfries and paid straight back.
Roberto Martinez and Van Gaal took advantage of the break to introduce new features, perhaps already thinking more about the World Cup than what is at stake: the pass to the “last four”.
Dumfries’ “ride” in the 50th minute upset Courtois’ calm, but Belgium continued to dominate. What’s more, a block by veteran Pasphere (38) prevented Onana from getting past the “Red Devils” in the 67th minute.
The goal, however, ended up falling to the Dutch side in the 74th minute, with Hazard already on the bench. He mistook Zeno Debast as a “rookie” and saw how Virgil van Dijk escaped from a corner kick taken by Cody Gakbo. Command and pass were sent to the “last four”.
“Orange”, who missed Frenkie de Jong in the “engine room”, almost scored 2-0 with a shot from Bergwijn from close range that hit the side of the net in the 76th minute. Castagne responded with a cross shot that went far in the 78th minute.
In the end, Courtois had time to show off two heads with Klasen and above all, the last, at 89 minutes, with Bergwijn. The best, however, came in 95 minutes. Trossard overflowed to the left and Lucbakio hit Chile with a “cross head”. Even Pasphere, grateful, cleaned up the team when he saw the ball parry.
The goal was to be of little use, to tell the truth. Holland are lucky and still undefeated since Van Gaal’s comeback: 15 games already.