Netherlands beat Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal as Ronald Koeman registers first win
Ronald Koeman claimed his first win in charge of the Netherlands national team as the Dutch cruised to a comfortable 3-0 friendly victory over an uninspired Portugal led by Cristiano Ronaldo in Geneva on Monday.football Updated: Mar 27, 2018 13:19 IST
Netherlands kick-started their new era in international football as they cruised to a 3-0 friendly victory over European champions Portugal on Monday, with Ronald Koeman enjoying his first win since becoming the Oranje’s coach in February.
The Dutch are still rebuilding after a disastrous World Cup qualification campaign, but they showed plenty of promise in Geneva, crushing Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal just three days after a disappointing defeat at home to England in Koeman’s bow.
Memphis Depay, recently in the news for claiming he has the ability to be the world’s best player, put in a particularly good display to upstage Ballon d’Or holder Ronaldo, putting the Dutch ahead with a smart finish early on.
Ryan Babel doubled their lead, before captain Virgil van Dijk produced a fine strike late in the half to open up an unassailable three-goal deficit.
Portugal stunned Egypt on Friday by scoring twice late on to win 2-1, but any hope of a more miraculous turnaround evaporated with Joao Cancelo’s sending off just past the hour for a second bookable offence.
And Netherlands ultimately eased to an impressive victory, highlighting the significant strides they have made since Danny Blind’s dismissal exactly one year earlier.
Portugal enjoyed a promising start as they put the Dutch under pressure high up the pitch and dominated possession, with Ronaldo looking particularly sharp.
But they were less alert at the back and found themselves trailing in the 11th minute.
Donny van de Beek’s pass from the right side of the area should have been straightforward to cut out, yet it found its way through to Depay, who prodded past his Lyon team-mate Anthony Lopes in goal.
Portugal’s frustration increased just after the half-hour mark when Ronaldo went down inside the area and was not given a penalty, sparking a furious reaction from him despite replays clearly showing his tumble came as a result of kicking the floor.
And Netherlands got a second shortly after – Babel heading in Matthijs de Ligt’s drilled cross from close range.
The game was essentially put beyond Portugal on the stroke of half-time, as Van Dijk volleyed into the bottom-right corner from the edge of the box.
After seemingly being on the receiving end of some choice words from coach Fernando Santos at the break, Portugal looked rather more purposeful upon the restart and dominated again.
But still their final pass lacked quality and, although substitutes Gelson Martins, Goncalo Guedes and Andre Silva looked a threat, Portugal just could not make the most of their superiority.
A second yellow card then ended Cancelo’s match in the 61st minute, as he caught Tonny Vilhena on the top of the foot, dealing a significant blow to Portugal’s already slim chances of mounting a comeback.
Portugal debutant Mario Rui nearly pulled one back from distance 16 minutes from time, but Jasper Cillessen made an excellent save as Netherlands - who introduced Patrick Kluivert’s son Justin late on for a first senior international appearance - cruised to the finish.
First Published: Mar 27, 2018 09:40 IST