Geneva, Tuesday @PeopleSports11
Ronald Koeman picked up his first victory as Holland manager on Monday with an emphatic 3-0 victory against Portugal, largely thanks to two Premier League misfits and Virgil van Dijk.
Just days after losing to Gareth Southgate’s young England squad, Holland bounced back in the best way possible with a dominant display against the Euro 2016 champions thanks to goals from Memphis Depay, Ryan Babel and Van Dijk.
Former Manchester United winger Depay, now enjoying life with Lyon, gave Holland a fantastic start, scoring the opening goal in the 11th minute after converting Donny van de Beek’s cross.
Portugal could have pegged Holland back if Cristiano Ronaldo had been awarded a penalty following a clumsy challenge from Nathan Ake on the half hour mark. But it was Holland who struck again just moments later, with ex-Liverpool man Babel heading home from close range after getting onto the end of a deflected Matthijs de Ligt cross.
The Dutch had their tails off and on the stroke of half-time Van Dijk, who captained Koeman’s side again, added a third with a fine finish into the bottom corner. With the game wrapped up for Holland in the first half, the second 45 was far less eventful.
The only talking point was Joao Cancelo receiving his marching orders after picking up a second yellow for a tackle on Tonny Vilhena.
Ronaldo was replaced by Joao Moutinho with just over 20 minutes remaining as the game petered out, while Ajax starlet Justin Kluivert was brought on by Koeman for his international debut in the 78th minute.
There remains a long way to go but this display—against a side that conquered the rest of Europe in France back in 2016—will rightly give cause for optimism.
And taking to Instagram after the final whistle, Depay sought to silence Holland’s critics by saying: “It was time to cut out the background noise, our journey starts now.” “They had four chances and scored three times, they deserved their victory,” said Portugal coach Fernando Santos.
Portugal had dominated the early stages against an unusual 5-3-2 formation deployed by the Dutch. “We decided to play with a system totally different from the one that the team has been using for a number of years,” said former Everton boss Koeman.
“The difference between tonight and last Friday is that we were more comfortable and scored quickly. The team had confidence. -AGENCIES