Nations League: The Netherlands beats Wales in dramatic fashion
The Netherlands made it two wins out of two in their Nations League group stage matches after a dramatic late winner from Wout Weghorst ensured they stayed top of their group. The goal came in injury time after Wales thought they had snatched a draw with a late equalizer. Teun Koopmeiners scored the first goal for The Netherlands.
Manager Louis Van Gaal made eleven changes to his lineup compared to the last match vs. Belgium. Except for Virgil van Dijk, who was allowed to go on holiday early, and Jurrien Timber, the rest of the featured players had all started on the bench against Belgium. Stefan De Vrij took the captain’s armband in Van Dijk’s absence.
Wales, too, made seven changes from their last game against Ukraine, a match they won to qualify for the World Cup in November.
The large number of changes were noticeable from both sides in the first half as poor play led to only a few moments of danger. The most significant chance for Wales came when Harry Wilson's free kick was punched away by Mark Flekken in the 24th minute. The Netherlands finished the half without any shots on target. The closest they came was right before halftime in the 44th minute when Cody Gakpo seemed to have burst through a gap in the Wales defence, only for the Welsh to recover and block Gakpo's shot for a corner.
The Netherlands took the lead shortly after halftime, in the 49th minute of play. A pass from Jerdy Schouten found his midfield partner, Teun Koopmeiners, on the edge of the penalty area, who hit a low-driven shot into the far corner.
Neither side impressed in the second half. Wales brought on Gareth Bale, arguably one of the greatest Welsh footballers, to break through the Dutch defence, but Oranje remained in control. That was until the second minute of injury time when a Conor Roberts corner found Rhys Norrington-Davies at the far post, who out-leaped Hans Hateboer and headed the ball into the net.
The Welsh thought they had rescued an unlikely point until the Netherlands broke away with their next attack resulting in Wout Weghorst heading home a Tyrell Malacia cross.
The Netherlands are three points clear on top of their group after the result. They face Poland on Saturday night at De Kuip in Rotterdam. Poland lost 6-1 on Wednesday night away to Belgium in the other fixture of this group.