Virgil Van Dijk Goal Sees Netherlands Draw with Germany in UEFA Nations League

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2018

GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 19: Virgil Van Dijk of the Netherlands scores his team's second goal during the UEFA Nations League A group one match between Germany and Netherlands at Veltins-Arena on November 19, 2018 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)
Boris Streubel/Getty Images

The Netherlands booked their place in the UEFA Nations League finals next summer, as they dramatically drew with Germany 2-2 on Monday at Veltins-Arena.  

Despite having already been relegated from League A Group 1, Germany started with the greater intent and were ahead after nine minutes following Timo Werner's brilliant long-range strike; 10 minutes later, their lead was doubled, as Leroy Sane's deflected shot squirmed past Jasper Cillessen.

The Dutch needed to get back on level terms in order to finish top of the group and they set up an interesting finish when Quincy Promes curled a fine effort beyond Manuel Neuer with six minutes remaining. It was then left to Virgil van Dijk, flung forward as an emergency centre-forward, to equalise in stoppage time with a thumping volley.

This remarkable result for the Netherlands means they join England, Portugal and Switzerland in the final four of the Nations League in June.


New Formation Will Rejuvenate Germany in 2019 Despite Growing Pains

(l-r) Leroy Sane of Germany, Germany coach Joachim Low during the UEFA Nations League A group 1 qualifying match between Germany and The Netherlands at the Veltins Arena on November 19, 2018 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
VI-Images/Getty Images

After being eliminated at the World Cup group stage and then relegated before their final game of the Nations League, 2018 has been a year to forget for Germany. However, manager Joachim Low appears to have stumbled on something encouraging in his new 3-4-3 system.

In the last two matches—they beat Russia 3-0 on Thursday—the Germans have looked a lot more comfortable, with the three-man defence providing extra stability and giving license to the attackers to operate with freedom.

Werner was a livewire throughout and opened the scoring with this piece of brilliance:

Univision Deportes @UnivisionSports

¡GOOOOOOOOOOOL! Werneeeeeeer ⚽️ GER 🇩🇪1-0 NED🇳🇱 #NationsLeague EN VIVO 🔴 https://t.co/q7nTT13bB5 https://t.co/Qs5TmhkPSJ

Sane, in particular, appears to be benefitting from the new formation, as he excelled at the home of his former side, Schalke:

Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto

Leroy Sane has now scored 2️⃣ goals in his last 2️⃣ apps for Germany after failing to score in his first 1️⃣5️⃣ apps 🇩🇪 https://t.co/EOJvsSO2YH

Werner, Sane and Serge Gnabry were electric throughout, with their slick interchanges causing major issues for the Dutch defensive pairing of Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs De Ligt.

With that attacking trio, Joshua Kimmich alongside Toni Kroos in midfield and Niklas Sule and Antonio Rudiger flanking Mats Hummels at the back, there was a refreshing look to this Germany team, at least before their late collapse.


Koeman Silences his Critics with Dutch Resurgence

It'd be fair to say that prior to Ronald Koeman taking over the Dutch national team, recent versions of the Oranje would have crumbled if they found themselves 2-0 down to Germany so early on.

The manner in which they continued pressing and believing throughout the game was a testament to the belief the team has gathered since his appointment. Sport Witness noted there's a running trend of late comebacks in this competition: 

Sport Witness @Sport_Witness

Nations League. It’s all about the drama. https://t.co/3AU86RdYFo

In Van Dijk, they have a defender and captain who appears to relish the big occasion too: 

OptaJohan @OptaJohan

2 - Virgil van Dijk has scored with both of his shots on target in the Nations League, both coming v Germany. Hero. https://t.co/ZEmp5N4pjI

The job Koeman has done can only be put into proper context when you look at the string of recent results put together by this team. To qualify top of a Nations League group containing the last two world champions is a remarkable achievement on the team's part.

Before grabbing a brilliant draw in Germany—they also beat Low's side 3-0 earlier in the competition—the Netherlands comfortably beat France 2-0 on Friday, drew against Italy away from home and hammered European champions Portugal 3-0 on the road.

After being sacked by Everton in 2017, some eyebrows were raised when Koeman was appointed as the man to pull Netherlands out of a crisis, having missed out on the last two major tournaments. Already the manager has made major strides towards silencing any critics.


What's next?

Thoughts will now turn to 2019 for both sides, with this the last match of the calendar year for the pair. No friendlies have been scheduled for next year yet, although the next international break in the domestic calendar is between March 18 and 26.