Football news - Netherlands shock France to relegate Germany and keep finals hunt alive
UEFA Nations League, De Kuip - Netherlands 2 (Wijnaldum 44, Depay 90 pen) France 0
World champions France missed the chance to confirm their place in the UEFA Nations League finals with a 2-0 defeat at Netherlands which relegated Germany.
The hosts dominated possession from the outset and nearly took the lead with less than two minutes on the clock, when Georginio Wijnaldum forced a point-break save from Hugo Lloris. The Liverpool midfielder, in plenty of space, should have been more clinical.
Ryan Babel, sporting pink hair, was a key creative outlet for the hosts, who assisted Memphis Depay for several opportunities. Shortly before the interval, the Besiktas forward latched onto a long ball into the box, as Presnel Kimpembe and Steven Nzonzi failed to clear the danger. Babel’s shot was parried into the path of Wijnaldum, who converted his second goal in as many games—much to the delight of the fans in Rotterdam, his hometown.
The French were expected to press higher in the second half, but lacked urgency as the Dutch continued to create chances. Van Dijk and Dumfries both saw headed chances saved, while Depay was denied with several notable efforts by Lloris. The French are renowned for late surges, but it was the hosts who rallied late on, creating plenty of chances to double the advantage. In injury time, Moussa Sissoko attempted to recover from a poor touch by bringing Frankie De Jong down in the area. It was a clear penalty, which Depay dispatched with a confident Panenka chip.
The result relegated Germany from Nations League A and denied Les Bleus the chance to top the group and qualify for the final four next summer. Ronald Koeman’s side can qualify for the Nations League final four with a draw against Germany in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday. If they lose, then France will win the group.
TALKING POINT: Are the Dutch on the verge of producing another great side?
Netherlands have beaten Germany and France in their last two competitive outings and have an excellent recent record. At times in this game, they played exhibition-like football, in what amounted to a superb team performance. Despite failing to make it to Russia in the summer, the Oranje look like a true force once again.
Netherlands' midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum (bottom) celebrates with team matesGetty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH: Hugo Lloris
Ryan Babel deserves high praise for his creativity and chancres created, while Memphis Depay was clearly high on confidence. However, Lloris was the star man, who made countless saves to keep the Dutch scoreline down. It was certainly one of his better recent international performances.
Netherlands: Cillessen 7, Blind 7, Van Dijk 7, De Ligt 7, Dumfries 8, F. De Jong 7, Wijnaldum 7, De Roon 7, Babel 8, Memphis 8, Bergwijn 7. Subs: Ake 6, Promes 6, Vilhena 6.
Kylian Mbappé (France) à la lutte avec Matthijs De Ligt (Pays-Bas)Getty Images
2 - CHANCE! Depay breaks down the right hand side and cuts the ball to Wijnaldum waiting in the box - he's in plenty of space and he forces a save from Lloris!
44 - GOAL! A long ball comes into the box and Babel's shot is saved by Lloris! It falls to Wijnaldum, who rifles it in!
62 - CHANCE! Blind breaks free on the left flank and floats in a cross for Dumfries, who forces a reflex save from Lloris! Dumfries is given a second bite of the cherry from the rebound, but Lloris blocks again for a corner! That's the best chance of the half!
90+4’ - PENALTY TO HOLLAND! Sissoko brings De Jong down from behind on the edge of the box. An easy decision!
90+5’ - GOAL! Depay chips in the penalty!
- Wijnaldum has scored two goals in his last two Dutch appearances—against the 2014 and 2018 World Cup winners.
- The Netherlands last beat France 10 years ago, in the group stage at Euro 2008.
- The Netherlands have won their last four home matches in Rotterdam, with a 16-1 aggregate scoreline.