The Netherlands remained top of Nations League Group A4 as Louis van Gaal’s side extended their unbeaten run to 14 games with a 2-0 win over Poland.
The visitors were dealt an early blow with just four minutes on the clock at the Stadion Narodowy in Warsaw as Teun Koopmeiners suffered a head injury following a 50-50 challenge with Karol Linetty. Van Gaal was forced into making a concussion substitution as the midfielder was taken off the field looking particularly groggy.
The Dutch then took the lead less than 10 minutes later with a superb passing move which was rounded off by Cody Gakpo at the far post, the attacker scoring an easy tap-in from Denzel Dumfries’ low cross from the right.
After an underwhelming first-half showing, Poland started the second period with much more intensity, and on 52 minutes the White and Red should have been level, but Arkadiusz Milik lifted his effort over the bar from close range.
The half-time substitute was punished for that miss as Netherlands secured the win eight minutes later. Steven Bergwijn finished off another neat one-touch move into the far corner from inside the penalty area to seal an eighth straight away international victory for Oranje.
The Netherlands will now face Belgium, who beat Wales in the evening’s other group fixture, in a crucial match on Sunday at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam to decide which side in Group A4 will advance to next year’s Nations League finals.
TALKING POINT – ORANJE IN GOOD POSITION FOR FINALS QUALIFICATION
With this win tonight, the Netherlands are in pole position to ensure their participation in next year’s Nations League finals. Oranje currently sit top of Group A4 with 13 points from their five matches, and are three clear of Belgium in second place.
The two rival nations will face off against each other on Sunday in Amsterdam, and all Louis van Gaal’s side need to do is avoid defeat to secure qualification.
However, the injuries suffered to both Memphis Depay and Teun Koopmeiners will surely be a blow for Oranje ahead of the big game.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – CODY GAKPO
The 23-year-old, who operated behind the forward line, had a great game for his nation. He scored the opening goal to round off a brilliant move which saw 21 passes leading up to the strike. He also proved to be a threat in the box with his strength and aerial presence, and even helped his side out at the other end to clear Polish set-piece deliveries.
In total, Gakpo had a pass completion rate of 92%, made two successful dribbles, won both of his attempted tackles and made two clearances.
Netherlands: Pasveer 7, Timber 7, Van Dijk 7, Ake 6, Dumfries 8, De Jong 6, Koopmeiners 6, Blind 7, Gakpo 8, Depay 6, Bergwijn 7. Subs: Taylor 6, Janssen 7, Weghorst 6, Berghuis 7, De Roon 6.
Poland: Szczesny 6, Bednarek 6, Glik 6, Kiwior 6, Frankowski 6, Krychowiak 6, Linetty 6, Zalewski 6, Szymanski 6, Zielinski 6, Lewandowski 6. Subs: Legowski 6, Skoras 6, Milik 5, Bereszynski 6, Klich 6.
4’ – HEAD INJURY – Koopmeiners takes a whack in the face by Linetty by accident following a 50-50 duel. The midfielder looks very groggy, and the Netherlands bench will have no choice but to make the change. He is briefly on his feet, but the physios are being precautionary and are bringing him off on a stretcher. We wish him a speedy recovery as he is a key player for both Oranje and his club side, Atalanta. Steven Berghuis comes on to replace him.
11’ – BIG CHANCE – Netherlands should be 1-0 up! Dumfries lays the ball off for Berghuis, and the midfielder whips in a beautiful ball towards the far post from the right edge of the penalty area, and Blind is in loads of space, but the wing-back cannot reach the ball on the stretch and Poland survive!
13’ – GOAL! (Cody Gakpo) – What an intricately worked goal! Berghuis, who advances down the right wing, plays it back for Depay, who produces a nice first-time through ball for the inverted Dumfries on the inside-right channel.The wing back then plays a delicious cut-back across the box, and Gakpo is there at the far post to tap home. A great start for Oranje.
49′ – ANOTHER INJURY FOR NETHERLANDS – Memphis Depay goes down clutching his hamstring and it looks like some more issues for Louis van Gaal to deal with. Vincent Janssen looks like he will replace him.
52′ – BIG MISS – A shocker from Milik. A huge chance for Poland as Zielinski plays a superb cross-field switch pass for Frankowski. The wing-back is advanced down the right byline, and plays a superb low cross towards the back post for Milik in the box, but the striker flashes the ball over from close range!
60′ – GOAL! (Steven Bergwijn) – Another great goal for Oranje! This time it is Bergwijn. The one-touch football is stunning. Bergwijn advances into the box, before playing a quick one-two with Janssen, who feeds the ball back to him with a deft flick, and the attacker finishes well into the bottom corner to double the advantage for his nation!