Netherlands extended their unbeaten run to 12 matches with a 2-2 Nations League draw against Poland in Rotterdam on Saturday, but captain Memphis Depay squandered the chance to complete a spectacular turnaround from two goals down when he missed a stoppage-time penalty.
Louis van Gaal’s side remain top of Group A4 on seven points but had to work hard for a point against a resilient and clinical Polish team, who were without rested star man Robert Lewandowski.
The hosts quickly established dominance in possession against a Poland side seemingly happy to sit deep and defend, and Davy Klaasen squandered a good early chance by dragging a shot wide of the far post.
Poland profited on Netherlands’ wastefulness midway through the first half when Aston Villa’s Matty Cash gathered a cross-field pass, drove forward and drilled a low shot into the bottom corner for his first international goal.
The game erupted into action after the break. Poland went 2-0 up with their second shot of the game when a clever dinked pass from Krzyzstof Piatek sent Przemyslaw Frankowski haring into space behind the high Dutch defensive line, before he unselfishly squared the ball for Piotr Zielinski to tap in. The goal was initially ruled out for offside, but VAR overturned the decision.
Van Gaal’s side needed a quick response and got just that by immediately hitting back with two goals in three minutes.
First, Klaasen tucked home a shot from a Daley Blind cross, before Denzel Dumfries’ deflected shot powered past Lukasz Skorupski for Netherlands’ second, awarded after another VAR check.
There was more drama to come at the death, when the referee headed to the pitchside monitor for a VAR check and saw that Cash had struck the ball with his arm in the area.
A penalty was awarded, handing Depay the chance to win it in the 91st minute, but the Barcelona forward’s powerful spot kick cannoned off the outside of the post.
TALKING POINT – DUTCH DEMONSTRATE DOGGED MENTALITY
Although Van Gaal won’t be happy that his side managed to go 2-0 down after facing just two shots, he will be delighted with his team’s response.
The Dutch look like a side that is full of confidence and self-belief right now. Not only did they fight their way back into the game, but they wasted no time at all – Van Gaal’s men were level within five minutes of going two goals down, and probably should’ve won it at the death, if Depay had shown a little more composure.
This team is fast approaching the one-year anniversary of their last defeat, and they look like a team that is used to winning, and know how to get results in any which way. Van Gaal is yet to lose a match in his third spell as Oranje boss and on this evidence, that run might go on a while yet.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: DENZEL DUMFRIES (NETHERLANDS)
The wing-back’s bombing runs were a feature of Netherlands’ attacking play all night, and his goal was fully deserved by the time it arrived. On a night when Poland were happy to sit deep and defend, Dumfries’ directness proved an effective weapon.
NETHERLANDS: Flekken 6; Timber 6, De Vrij 6, Ake 6; Dumfries 8*, Berghuis 7, Klaassen 6, De Jong 6, Blind 6; Bergwijn 6, Depay 7 Subs: Teze 6, Gakpo 6, Koopmeiners 6, Weghorst 6
POLAND: Skorupski 7; Cash 7, Bednarek 6, Kiwior 6, Bereszynski 6; Frankowski 7, Goralski 6, Krychowiak 6, Zalewski 6; Zielinski 7, Piatek 6 Subs: Zurkowski 6, Glik 6
8’ NETHERLANDS 0-0 POLAND – The first big chance of the game goes Netherlands’ way. It comes after a lovely series of passes opens up space for Klaasen in the box, but the midfielder drags his shot wide of the far post.
19’ GOAL! NETHERLANDS 0-1 POLAND (CASH) – Out of nowhere, Cash is the hero for Poland. He gathers a cross-field pass at the edge of the area but still has a lot to do. Blind stands off him and the defender takes the invitation, dribbling forward a few steps and drilling a low shot into the far bottom corner!
49’ GOAL! NETHERLANDS 0-2 POLAND (ZIELINSKI) – Poland go 2-0 up with their second shot of the game! The goal is ruled out for offside, but a VAR review overturns the decision. A clever dinked pass from Piatek sends Frankowski racing into space behind the Dutch’s high line, and he unselfishly lays a pass into the path of Zielinski for a tap-in.
51’ GOAL! NETHERLANDS 1-2 POLAND (KLAASEN) – Blind’s cross from the left wing finds its way to Klaasen, who tucks in a finish from six yards! Game back on.
54’ GOAL! NETHERLANDS 2-2 POLAND (DUMFRIES) – Dumfries thrashes in the equaliser but has to wait for VAR to verify that there were no offsides in the build-up. The Dutch eventually get the all-clear and they’re level.
91’ MISSED PENALTY NETHERLANDS 2-2 POLAND – Depay has the chance to be the hero late on after a Cash handball earns the Dutch a penalty, but the captain smashes his spot kick off the post.