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The Netherlands had cause for concern as they visited their neighbours in this UEFA EURO 2020 qualifier, but turned the game on its head after a fruitless first half in Hamburg.WATCH IN FULL ON UEFA.TV
After foundering at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Germany opted to bring in a new generation of players for the next batch of European Qualifiers, and looked to have made a seamless transition as they beat the Netherlands 3-2 in Amsterdam in their first match of the campaign. The Dutch had missed out on the last two major tournaments, and Ronald Koeman’s men came to Hamburg to take on a side that had not lost a home qualifier since a 3-0 defeat by the Czech Republic in 2007 – and that had beaten Estonia 8-0 in their previous match.
Memphis Depay: An unhappy spell at Manchester United had damped down expectations around the lively forward, but the Lyon man had kicked off the qualifying campaign with two goals in a 4-0 win against Belarus – and another in the loss to Germany.
Serge Gnabry: After failing to dazzle at Arsenal, Gnabry came back home to sparkle with Werder Bremen and then Bayern, and made a dramatic national-team debut in 2017 with a hat-trick in an 8-0 win against San Marino.
Frenkie de Jong: The brightest of the many young talents in the Ajax squad that reached the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League semi-finals, De Jong was already set for a move to Barcelona, and gave a superb demonstration of his creative skills in Hamburg.
Germany were ahead inside ten minutes, Gnabry pouncing to put away a rebound, but showed few signs of adding to their haul in a subdued first half, though they comfortably fielded anything the Dutch threw at them. However, the hosts' poise deserted them after De Jong levelled early in the second half, a Jonathan Tah own goal then leaving them 2-1 in arrears.
Toni Kroos converted a 73rd-minute penalty to restore parity, but Germany's resolve faltered once more in the closing stages. Donyell Malen scored on his debut to give Koeman’s team the lead, and Georginio Wijnaldum made absolutely sure of the three points with a tap-in at the death.
Memphis Depay, Netherlands forward: "Winning 4-2 in Germany? That's massive and really important for us.”
Georginio Wijnaldum, Netherlands midfielder: "There were a lot of goals in the second half! How did we change things? We just tried to play better, because there were spaces in the first half but we didn’t use them well, whereas in the second half we did."
Ronald Koeman, Netherlands coach: "We played to win the game more than they did. We kept our patience and while Germany had two good chances after the break, they maybe grew a little tired of closing all the gaps."
Serge Gnabry, Germany forward: "Disappointment comes with every defeat. Everyone knows that the Netherlands are a good team. We can't give away goals like that."
Elsewhere that night
Eight more European Qualifiers were played that Friday, with Austria the biggest winners, securing a 6-0 victory against Latvia. Croatia triumphed 4-0 in Slovakia, while two Michy Batshuayi goals helped Belgium to a 4-0 success in San Marino. Gareth Bale, meanwhile, headed Wales’ winner in a 2-1 defeat of Azerbaijan. "We ground it out and showed our character," the Real Madrid man said.
Northern Ireland topped Group C with 12 points following the Netherlands win in Germany, but faded out of contention in the latter stages. Consequently, Die Mannschaft and the Oranje finished first and second in the group – with 21 and 19 points respectively – to claim their finals places.
The month after the Netherlands game, Gnabry scored against Argentina in a friendly to become the fastest player to reach ten goals for the national team – doing so in just 11 matches. Top scorer in Group C alongside Wijnaldum with eight goals, Gnabry's strike rate for Germany remains mighty: 13 in 13 games.REGISTER FOR FREE