A second-string Netherlands beat Wales 2-1 away after a dramatic late finale in the Nations League on Wednesday, bringing the hosts back down to earth after they secured World Cup qualification at the weekend.
Wout Weghorst won the game for the Dutch, scoring with a header four minutes into stoppage time, straight after Wales looked to have snatched a late draw when Rhys Norrington-Davies netted two minutes into stoppage time.
Teun Koopmeiners opened the scoring five minutes into the second half to give the visitors the lead, after coach Louis van Gaal had changed his entire team from the side that opened their League A Group Four campaign with a 4-1 thumping of neighbours Belgium last Friday.
Wales also rested some of their senior squad members after winning a World Cup place for the first time in 64 years when they beat Ukraine 1-0 on Sunday, allowing fringe players to stake a claim for selection in the Qatar-bound team.
Despite looking the brighter of the two sides in the first half, Wales were caught early in the second when Koopmeiners found a pocket of space to fire home from the edge of the area with his weaker right foot after being set up by debutant Jerdy Schouten.
The Dutch had only one chance in the first 45 minutes, on the stroke of halftime, when Cody Gakpo’s shot was deflected away for a corner by Chris Mepham.
Before that Wales’s Harry Wilson hit the target with a free kick but his effort was punched away by Dutch goalkeeper Mark Flekken.
Welsh talisman Gareth Bale made a cameo appearance in the final quarter-hour but it was Norrington-Davies who rose powerfully at the back post to head home an equaliser.
Yet almost straight from the kick off, Frenkie de Jong surged forward at the start of a move that ended with Weghorst diving to head home a dramatic winner.
“It was a fantastic counter but we were sloppy in the first half, turned over a lot of possession and so we couldn’t attack. But I keep saying we have a tremendous squad,” Van Gaal told Dutch NOS television after the game.
Wales have now lost both games of the new Nations League campaign after defeat in Poland a week ago and also saw a 19-match unbeaten home record come to an inauspicious end.
Wednesday’s win extended the Netherlands’ 100% record over Wales to nine matches and put them top of the Nations League group.
The Dutch next host Poland in Rotterdam on Saturday when Wales host Belgium.
Belgium crush Poland to put Dutch misery behind them
Substitute Leandro Trossard scored twice as Belgium put their Netherlands nightmare behind them to thump Poland 6-1 in a pulsating Nations League A game at the King Baudouin Stadium on Wednesday.
Belgium, coming off a 4-1 home drubbing by their Dutch neighbours on Friday, fell behind when Robert Lewandowski netted just before the half-hour mark, but levelled before the break through Axel Witsel.
They dominated the second period and after goals from Kevin De Bruyne, Trossard (two), Leander Dendoncker and debutant Lois Openda moved second in Group Four after two rounds, above Poland in third.
Belgium visit bottom side Wales on Saturday while Poland travel to the Netherlands. Poland, who suffered their biggest defeat in a competitive fixture since 1965, host Belgium in their return fixture on Tuesday.
“It was fantastic today,” Trossard told VTM. “We had to react after the last game. We played well and created many chances. And, of course, it’s nice when you can score so many goals.”
He admitted he was at a loss as to why Belgium would put in two such contrasting performances in a matter of days.
“It’s hard to explain, if we knew the answer to that, we would do something about it. But we responded well today, that was the most important thing.”
The home side never looked flustered after falling behind, having scored in every game since a 1-0 loss to France at the 2018 World Cup, a run of 46 consecutive matches.
They also had Eden Hazard running the show as he impressed in his 66 minutes on the pitch, showing flashes of quality after a season blighted by injury and poor form at Real Madrid.
Poland took the lead against the run of play as Lewandowski completed a typically composed finish for his 76th international goal.
But Belgium were level three minutes before halftime through Witsel, and then peppered the Poland goal with shots after that.
They took the lead when Hazard slipped the ball to De Bruyne in acres of space in the box, a goal that was to open the floodgates as Trossard grabbed a quickfire brace, his second a superb curling effort into the top corner.
Dendoncker then crashed home a 30-yard shot under no pressure from the wilting visitors, and Openda completed the rout as he marked his first cap with a neat finish.
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