Frenkie de Jong and Tyrell Malacia stood out as the Netherlands eked a 2-1 win over Wales at the Cardiff City Stadium on Wednesday.

Louis van Gaal made wholesale changes to the side that had cruised to a 4-1 win over Belgium in their UEFA Nations League opener. And the effects of those shuffles were clear from the onset as theย Oranje struggled to gel in the first half, handing Wales the initiative.

The hosts dominated the proceedings in the first half, but Mark Flekken only had one big save to make in the opening period. The closest Netherlands came to scoring was just ahead of the break when Cody Gakpo’s effort took a heavy deflection off Chris Mepham before going wide.

But Louis van Gaal’s half-time talk worked wonders as the Netherlands went ahead a couple of minutes into the second half, as Teun Koopmeiners scored with a brilliant half volley from just outside Wales’ box. The two sides traded blows after that, but the next goal did not come until the end of the regulation time.

Rhys Norrington-Davies, who had come close to scoring in the first half, found the target this time, nodding in a cross by Connor Roberts. But just when Wales thought they had snatched a point from the game, Wout Weghorst scored with a brilliant header to earn Netherlands all three. The result ended Wales’ brilliant unbeaten home run, and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Louis van Gaal’s men.

Mark Flekken: 6/10

Flekken did not have much to do despite Wales’ dominance in the first half. He made a couple of strong saves, but he could not have done much to deny Rhys Norrington-Davies late on after Hans Hateboer failed to mark the Welsh left-back.

Jordan Teze: 5/10

Teze made his debut against Wales and almost immediately got himself into the book with a clumsy challenge. The early booking meant the 22-year-old had to be more careful at the back, and he looked hesitant as a result. He was also careless in possession, losing the ball 16 times.

Stefan de Vrij: 6/10

Stefan de Vrij was commanding at the heart of the Netherlands’ defence and completed all but three of his attempted passes. But the skipper could have done better to move the ball on quickly to catch Wales off guard during turnovers.

Matthijs de Ligt: 6/10

Matthijs de Ligt was a solid customer at the back and kept a check on Brennan Johnson throughout the game. The youngster often took the opportunity to move into the opposition half, but he was slow to release the ball, killing the momentum of build-up plays in the process. He needs to do more to win over Louis van Gaal.

Hans Hateboer: 5/10

Hateboer is usually a solid performer for the Netherlands, but he struggled, at times, against the twin threat of Daniel James and Harry Wilson. The 28-year-old barely posed a threat in the final third, and Norrington-Davies outjumped him late on for Wales’ equaliser. It is clear that Denzel Dumfries is the undisputed first-choice right wing-back going into the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Teun Koopmeiners: 6/10

Koopmeiners scored a top-class goal with a half volley early in the second half to hand the Netherlands the initiative in the game. He also retained a 91 per cent passing rate, but there was some sloppiness in his game, as he squandered the possession a staggering 14 times. He needs to address that side of his game.

Jerdy Schouten: 7/10

Louis van Gaal handed Schouten his debut, and the 25-year-old grabbed his opportunity with both hands. The Bologna midfielder was one of the standout performers for the Netherlands, as he was solid behind the ball and read the game well. Schouten also found Koopmeiners for the opener, although the goal was solely down to his midfield partner.

Tyrell Malacia: 7/10

Malacia was top-notch on Wednesday as went up and down the left flank without losing his breath. One moment, the 22-year-old threatened in the final third before dropping back and defending diligently the next. He won four duels while completing all but two of his attempted passes. And Malacia delivered the cross for the winner that Wout Weghorst scored.

Noa Lang: 6/10

Noa Lang was a bundle of energy during his stay on the pitch. The 22-year-old never shied away from taking on his man while completing most of his attempted passes. But he struggled to find a way past a resolute Welsh defence despite his best efforts. He picked up a knock late in the game.

Cody Gakpo: 6/10

Gakpo endured a frustrating game as his passing was lacklustre at times. And the young forward was also sloppy with the ball at his feet on a few occasions, losing possession 12 times. But he put in the hard yards in the defensive phases, pressing from the front to help those behind him.

Wout Weghorst: 6.5/10

Weghorst struggled to get into the game for the most part, and his hold-up play left a lot to be desired. But the experienced striker still managed to carve out a couple of openings before scoring the all-important winner with his only shot in the match, a brilliant header from close range to convert Malacia’s cross.


Frenkie de Jong: 7/10

Louis van Gaal introduced de Jong with a quarter of a game left to play, and the 25-year-old showed his quality by handing his side the control. It was de Jong who created the space for Malacia before the left wing-back crossed the ball in for Weghorst’s winner.

Steven Bergwijn: 6/10

Bergwijn did not manage a single shot during his cameo, but he pushed the Netherlands forward with purpose and added bite to their attack.

Bruno Martins Indi: N/A

Martins Indi replaced de Ligt with less than ten minutes left and looked to see the game out. He was not at fault for the goal that the Netherlands conceded.

Guus Til: N/A

A late introduction, Til barely had any time to make an impact.

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