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Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay strike as Netherlands beat France 2-0

Netherlands’ impressive 2-0 home victory over world champions France in Rotterdam on Friday ensured Germany will finish bottom of Group 1 in League A, which is the UEFA competition’s top tier.

football Updated: Nov 17, 2018 09:50 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press
Rotterdam
Georginio Wijnaldum,Memphis Depay,Netherlands
Netherlands' midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum (bottom) celebrates with team mates after scoring a goal.(AFP)

Midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum scored just before halftime and Memphis Depay converted an audacious extra-time penalty as the Netherlands team that did not qualify for the World Cup beat world champion France 2-0 on Friday in the UEFA Nations League.

The margin of victory flattered Didier Deschamps’ injury-hit team, with goalkeeper Hugo Lloris making a string of good saves in the second half to deny Denzel Dumfries, Depay, and Frenkie de Jong.

France looked outclassed for much of the match. The team tried to play a waiting game, sitting back and hoping to launch speedy 19-year-old striker Kylian Mbappe. But led by midfielder De Jong, the Dutch not only dominated possession, but also shut down the World Cup star.

The result left the Dutch one point behind France in League A Group 1 ahead of the Netherlands’ match against Germany on Monday in Gelsenkirchen. The Dutch need a draw to win the group.

Wijnaldum broke the deadlock just a minute before halftime with his 10th international goal in his 52nd appearance for the Netherlands.

Depay doubled the lead with a “Panenka” penalty in stoppage time, chipping the ball over Lloris to complete a memorable victory.

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The Netherlands must wish they could play every match at Feyenoord’s stadium — the victory extended the Dutch run of wins at De Kuip Stadium to 15.

Wijnaldum should have scored in just the second minute, before a French player even touched the ball, but he fired straight at Lloris after a clever pass from Depay.

Both players got their revenge later on.

Wijnaldum was first. He thumped home a rebound after De Jong crossed from the left, his pass floating just over Steven Nzonzi and landing at the feet of Ryan Babel. Lloris saved the winger’s shot, but had no chance when the ball fell to Wijnaldum.

The Dutch, fresh from beating Germany 3-0 and drawing with top-ranked Belgium 1-1, began stroking the ball around confidently and never let up.

At the same time, the Dutch defense held Mbappe in check. One of the biggest roars from the capacity crowd came when center back Matthijs de Ligt, also 19, blocked a run by Mbappe down the left flank in the first half.

A depleted France arrived in Rotterdam after injuries sidelined Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Benjamin Mendy, Thomas Lemar, Lucas Hernandez and Thomas Lemar.

But even all those absences cannot be an excuse for a lackluster display by the world champion.

Depay, who plays for French club Lyon, forced three more saves from Lloris in the space of minutes. De Jong was denied in extra time by Lloris, then Depay finally made all the pressure pay with his penalty for his 13th international goal. Depay has been directly involved in 41 goals in 52 matches for club and country this year, scoring 23 times and providing 18 assists.

First Published: Nov 17, 2018 08:53 IST