Belgium 1-4 Netherlands: Depay double as Dutch down neighbours
Friday, June 3, 2022
Memphis Depay scored twice as the Netherlands began their UEFA Nations League campaign with a comfortable Group A4 win.
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The Netherlands beat neighbours Belgium for the first time since 1997 as a fearsome display in their UEFA Nations League opener secured a big win in Brussels.
13' Castagne shot hits woodwork
40' Bergwijn blasts in opener
51' Depay adds second
62' Dumfries makes it three
66' Depay volleys home fourth
90'+3 Batshuayi earns consolation
Match in brief: Dutch end long wait to beat Belgium
Belgium made the brighter start and came close to the opener when Romelu Lukaku set up Timothy Castagne, whose shot thumped against the frame of the goal. However, the Netherlands soon took the upper hand and Simon Mignolet was forced into a fine save to deny Steven Berghuis, the start of a catalogue of chances for the visitors.
Lukaku was forced off injured, and that only enhanced the advantage for the Netherlands, who finally got the breakthrough when Steven Bergwijn blasted in from 25 metres. His side then thought they had a penalty when Castagne was adjudged to have handled Denzel Dumfries' cross, but the decision was overturned by VAR, the ball having hit the Belgian in the face.
After the break, it was one-way traffic as Memphis Depay raced through to score the second, before Dumfries tapped in the third from Daley Blind's cross. Blind then teed up Depay for his second and the visitors' fourth goal, and although Belgium rallied, with Michy Batshuayi registering in added time, there was no way back for them.
Alyssa Saliou, match reporter
A night of contrasting emotions as the UEFA Nations League kicked off for these nations – one of worry for Belgium, whereas this vibrant Netherlands side appear on the verge of a return to the top table of international football under Louis van Gaal. Belgium started well, but once Lukaku went off, they collapsed. The Netherlands were solid at the back, while Bergwijn and Depay were merciless in attack. Mignolet was beaten four times but was largely blameless as those in front of him floundered. The bright spots for Belgium were perhaps debutant Onana, who proved eager until the end, and Batshuayi, who did at least get on the scoresheet.
Louis Van Gaal, Netherlands manager: "If everyone does what they are supposed to do, then in every position on the pitch we have one player extra. It also has to do with the opponent – every opponent plays differently. And I adjusted to Belgium too. I adapted my midfield. And my midfield won the game today."
Leandro Trossard, Belgium forward: "Some aspects of the game were good but mostly we were really distracted. We gave them way too much space. When we got the ball we immediately lost it. The Netherlands have shown that they are a very strong team that can hurt everyone."
Roberto Martínez, Belgium coach: "It was a needed wake-up call for everyone. We all know we have a lot of work to do. I'll have to look at the selection again and make decisions. I've been with this team for a while now. I need to make sure I don't make mistakes thinking I know some players and automatically they'll be ready for the World Cup."
- The Netherlands have only failed to score in one of their last 23 international matches.
- Opening goalscorer Bergwijn was born one month after the Netherlands' last win over Belgium in September 1997.
- The Netherlands scored four times in Belgium for the first time since October 1960.
- Belgium lost a home UEFA Nations League match for the first time.
- Belgium have not failed to score in any of their 13 UEFA Nations League games.
Belgium: Mignolet; Alderweireld, Boyata, Vertonghen; Meunier (Carrasco 67), De Bruyne, Witsel (Batshuayi 67), Castagne; Vanaken (Onana 46), Lukaku (Trossard 26), E. Hazard (Mertens 46)
Netherlands: Cillessen; J. Timber, Van Dijk, Aké (De Ligt 74); Dumfries, Klaassen, F. de Jong, Blind; Berghuis (Koopmeiners 83); Bergwijn, Depay
What happens after the UEFA Nations League group stage?
The four group winners in League A will advance to the knockout finals with, in principle, one appointed as hosts. The semi-finals will be played on 14 and 15 June 2023, with the final and third-place play-off to follow on 18 June
The teams finishing fourth in the groups in Leagues A will be relegated to League B for the 2024/25 edition.