Memphis Depay produced a valiant effort, but it essentially came to nought as the Netherlands were held to a 2-2 draw by Montenegro on Saturday.

The Netherlands carried little threat in the first half and needed a stroke of good fortune to break the deadlock. Davy Klaassen won a soft penalty when Marko Jankovic brought him down on the edge of the box, and Memphis Depay converted the resulting spot-kick, making no error in beating Matija Sarkic.

Montenegro carried some threat on the break but were unable to trouble Justin Bijlow too much. The Netherlands beefed up their advantage early in the second half, as Memphis Depay doubled his and his side’s tally by producing a cheeky back-heel flick from Denzel Dumfries’s low cross.

The visitors continued to push forward for another goal but could not trouble Sarkic.  Montenegro duly pounced and pulled a goal back through Ilija Vukotic, who Milutin Osmajic released before rounding Bijlow to make it 2-1. Shortly after, Nikola Vujnovic sank the Dutch hearts as he headed in from Risto Radunovic’s cross to get the game back on level terms.

The deadlock was not broken again as the two teams shared the spoils. The result means the Netherlands need to wait till their final game to confirm their place at FIFA World Cup 2022, needing a win to clinch the automatic berth in Group G. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Louis van Gaal’s men.

Justin Bijlow: 5/10

Bijlow was solid in the first half, making a superb stop to deny Marko Jankovic. However, he should have done better when dealing with the efforts that led to Montenegro’s goals. He has not made the best of impressions in this game.

Denzel Dumfries: 7/10

The best of the Dutch defenders, Dumfries played a key role leading up to his side’s second goal, delivering the low cross that Memphis Depay converted. The 25-year-old also put in the hard yards defensively, winning three blocks and as many clearances. He cannot be faulted for the dropped points.

Stefan de Vrij: 5/10

It was a game of hits and misses for de Vrij, who was busy individually, making three clearances and two blocks while winning five duels. However, the 29-year-old was caught out when Ilija Vukotic drifted off him to score Montenegro’s first.

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Virgil van Dijk: 6/10

While he was not directly at fault for either of the goals scored by Montenegro, van Dijk once again failed to keep the backline organised. He also does not seem to be as mobile as he was before his injury, which is why he keeps getting caught out in the defensive phases at times.

Daley Blind: 5/10

It was a tricky evening for Blind, who drifted in and out of the game at an alarming rate. In the final third, the experienced defender carried no threat while managing to win just two of the eight duels he contested. Worse still, Blind lost out against Nikola Vujnovic when Montenegro scored the equaliser.

Georginio Wijnaldum: 5/10

It was a game to forget for Wijnaldum, who barely even saw the ball let alone make an impact on the proceedings. The 31-year-old managed only 24 touches on the ball, played no key pass and did not even appear in the box to take a shot. He needs to do so much more.

Frenkie de Jong: 7/10

Frenkie de Jong was the big reason why the Netherlands were in control of the proceedings. The 24-year-old always looked to push his side forward, while off the ball, he ensured Montenegro barely carried a threat when he was on the pitch. It is telling that the Netherlands crumbled late on when de Jong was no longer providing the cover in midfield.

Davy Klaassen: 5/10

Yes, Klaassen won the penalty that helped the Netherlands break the deadlock in a difficult first half. However, that was as good as it got for the 28-year-old, who made little to no impact in the phases when the Netherlands had possession of the ball. While he completed all but four of his attempted passes, he hardly took risks when linking up with teammates.

Donyell Malen: 5/10

A hit and miss first half saw Malen being one of the more threatening players for the Netherlands. The 22-year-old created the biggest chance from open play for the visitors in the opening period, only for Arnaut Danjuma to miss the target with his effort. He was taken off at the break for Steven Bergwijn, who proved to be an upgrade on him.

Memphis Depay: 8/10

The clear standout for his side, Depay was the sole reason the Netherlands got anything out of the game. The 27-year-old made no mistake in converting from the spot before producing a brilliant back-heel flick for his second. With his brace, Depay is now the top scorer for the Netherlands in World Cup qualifying fixtures.

Arnaut Danjuma: 5/10

After impressing for Villarreal, Danjuma got his big opportunity for the Netherlands but hardly made an impact in the final third. Even though he was almost exclusively camped in and around the Montenegro box, there was so much more that he could have done to influence the result positively.


Steven Bergwijn: 6/10

Introduced at half-time in place of Malen, Bergwijn was a bundle of energy in the final third and played a couple of key passes. However, that was not enough to inspire any goal, which was ultimately telling.

Teun Koopmeiners: 5/10

On for Wijnaldum, Koompeiners continued from where the incumbent left off, losing the ball cheaply while also being caught out of position defensively. He has to do better.

Ryan Gravenberch: N/A

Introduced in place of de Jong, Gravenberch struggled to provide a solid base in midfield when Montenegro produced their late onslaught.

Noa Lang: N/A

On for Danjuma, Lang barely saw the ball in the final 15 minutes of the game and hence, failed to sway the game in Netherlands’ favour.

Matthijs de Ligt: N/A

A late introduction, de Ligt helped see the game out.

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