The road to qualification for a major international tournament is always full of twists and turns, and that’s especially true this year as we look ahead to UEFA Euro 2020 next summer. There are plenty of nations up and down the continent that have the potential to qualify with two of them, the Netherlands and Northern Ireland, meeting earlier this evening at De Kuip.
The visitors were able to frustrate the Netherlands which, in many ways, felt like their plan all along. They knew that they needed to try and neutralise the attacking threat of the favourites and they did so pretty masterfully, although, in the process, they also gave up large periods of possession to the hosts.
The first half ended goalless with the Netherlands gradually getting closer and closer towards breaking through, but not quite being able to get themselves over the finish line. It eventually took until the 75th minute for the first goal of the game to come, with Josh Magennis being the man to score it in a shocking turn of events. The Northern Irish had the unlikeliest of leads, and all they needed to do was hold onto it for 15 minutes plus stoppage.
They were unable to do so, though, with Memphis Depay grabbing the equaliser just five minutes later. The home side were bombarding Northern Ireland’s goal, and eventually, they managed to edge themselves into the lead in injury time as Luuk de Jong hooked the ball over the line. Depay then managed to grab his second of the game, completing one of the craziest 20-minute spells of the year in international football.
With two games remaining it certainly seems like this is the kind of result that is going to decide the immediate qualifying future of both nations, with the Netherlands now being tipped as one of the two clear favourites to go through to the final tournament. Northern Ireland, on the other hand, will almost certainly need to rely on the playoffs if they are to have any hope of reaching Euro 2020, which many fans and pundits believe they deserve.
Netherlands: Cillessen (6), Blind (7.5), van Dijk (7.5), de Ligt (6.5), Dumfries (6.5), F.de Jong (8), de Roon (6.5), Wijnaldum (7), Babel (6), Depay (9), Bergwijn (7.5), Malen (7), van de Beek (6.5), L.de Jong (7.5)
Northern Ireland: Peacock-Farrell (6), Smith (6), Cathcart (6.5), J.Evans (7), Ferguson (6), C.Evans (7.5), Dallas (7), McNair (6), David (6.5), Saville (7), Lafferty (6), Magennis (6.5), Thompson (6), Flanagan (6)
Referee: Benoît Bastien
Goals: Depay x2, L.de Jong :: Magennis
Yellow Cards: Depay, Peacock-Farrell, Smith, J.Evans
Red Cards: N/A