The Netherlands wrapped up their international break with a dramatic, hard-fought win over Wales at a raucous De Kuip in Rotterdam on Tuesday.

It was a case of history repeating itself between the Netherlands and Wales, albeit in a quick turnaround, as the Dutch repeated their late heroics against Wales from just days ago. Memphis Depay snatched a 3-2 UEFA Nations League Group A4 victory for group leader Netherlands as late drama in Rotterdam resulted in Wales being robbed once again after they thought a late Gareth Bale penalty had clinched a point.

The home side dominated the first quarter and got off to an exceptional start when Noa Lang and Cody Gakpo scored six minutes apart. Lang twisted, turned, and swirled past players before unleashing a brilliant strike to score his first international goal and give Louis van Gaal’s team an early lead. It got even better just a few minutes later when Cody Gakpo extended the Netherlands’ advantage by firing a low shot into the bottom corner.

Just when it appeared Wales could be in for a very long night at De Kuip, the ever-so lively Brennan Johnson pulled a goal back for the visitors with a clinical finish to get his side back into the game. That remained the case for most of the game, as it seemed to be heading to a 2-1 Netherlands win until Gareth Bale dispatched a 92nd-minute penalty.

Just as Wales assumed they had sealed a point and bucked the trend of Dutch dominance over them in recent years, substitute Memphis Depay, who missed a late penalty in the 2-2 draw against Poland last time out, stepped up to score the winner deep into stoppage time. The result meant the hosts remain unbeaten in Louis van Gaal’s latest stint in charge and sit comfortably at the top of the group with ten points.

Despite Wales’ best efforts, this was their third Nations League defeat in four games, and they are now bottom of the Group A4. Yet, qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup should be a big takeaway from this international break. The Hard Tackle will now run the rule over van Gaal’s troops after another spirited performance at De Kuip.

Jasper Cillessen: 6/10

Cillessen had a couple of uncomfortable moments with the ball at his feet and should have done better for Wales’ opening goal. Despite not having much to do all night, he still shipped in two goals and lacked assurance at the back.

Jordan Teze: 4.5/10

Teze started the game well, with some accurate passing and strong reading of his defensive positioning. But then came the nightmare moment as he sloppily gifted the ball away to Wales in midfield, leading up to their opener, which gave the opponents a chance to come back in the game. Subbed off at half-time.

Matthijs de Ligt: 6/10

It was a game of hits and misses for de Ligt, who looked troubled in dealing with the early pressure from Wakes, often struggling to keep up with the attackers like Brennan Johnson, who asked all sorts of questions from the Dutch backline when he took on opponents.

The Juventus defender was caught out when Johnson drifted past him to score Wales’ first, which went through the legs of de Ligt to add further shame. However, the stand-in skipper recovered from that and put in a commanding performance that included some good challenges, great long balls forward, and aerial domination.

Bruno Martins Indi: 6/10

It feels like Bruno Martins Indi has redeemed his career of late, and this was another step in the right direction for the robust defender. The ex-Stoke City defender made his first start for the Netherlands since April 2017 and did not put a foot wrong throughout the game. He started aggressively and was booked early on; the lack of pace is usually evident against buzzing forwards, but there were no glaring blunders.

Hans Hateboer: 5/10

Hateboer started on the right flank and did well to maintain width but once again struggled to offer anything of relevance, either in an attacking or defensive sense. The Atalanta man played one accurate long ball and won both of his aerial duels before being withdrawn at half-time.

Teun Koopmeiners: 7/10

Koopmeiners was the chief playmaker in the middle of the park for the Netherlands as he dominated the central areas of the pitch and did well to win and retain possession on multiple occasions thanks to his sublime passing skills. He completed 91 per cent of his 58 attempted passes and had a 100 per cent success rate in long balls (4/4), while he also did not shirk his defensive responsibilities, making 2 blocks.

Frenkie de Jong: 7.5/10

Frenkie de Jong was the standout midfielder for the Oranje once again, and he was the big reason why the Netherlands were in control of the proceedings. He was also, as always, a joy to watch when he drove forward with the ball from the midfield pivot position, notably in the lead up to winning goal by Depay.

When he received the ball from the defence, he moved it forward with great accuracy, completing 93 per cent of his 67 attempted passes. He pushed his side forward by completing a match-high four dribbles. He also won seven of his 11 contested ground duels and put in the hard yards off the ball as well, making three interceptions.

Tyrell Malacia: 6/10

Malacia started on the left flank and had a good game. He was hoping to impress and did show flashes of his talent. He completed three of his four attempted long balls but was a tad unlucky to commit the penalty.

Noa Lang: 7.5/10

Regarded as one of the most promising young attackers in Europe amid links with Premier League clubs such as Arsenal and Manchester United, Lang showed exactly why he is so highly rated. The youngster specialises in creating spaces and combined well with Gakpo to disrupt Wales’ defensive lines with his quick passing and change in tempo close to the 18-yard-box.

The Club Brugge man is said to be at his best when shifting from wide areas into half-spaces, and the goal came in a similar manner as he picked up the ball in midfield, drove at defenders and twisted and turned before releasing a thunderous shot at goal. Lang was a constant menace and kept the Welsh defenders on their toes throughout. A sensational display.

Cody Gakpo: 8/10

Gakpo put up a fantastic performance by being direct and hitting Wales’ defence whenever he got the ball. He buzzed in and around the final third to cause problems for Wales and eventually got himself on the scoresheet with a well-taken goal.

The PSV Eindhoven attacker drove at the Welsh defence and had his initial shot blocked. But the ball dropped kindly back to him, and he made no mistakes at the second time of asking, bending in a low curling shot from just inside the box to put the hosts in the driving seat.

Vincent Janssen: 6.5/10

A fine performance by the 28-year-old forward, who was involved in both goals for his side in the first half. Janssen had a couple of chances to bag one for himself but just could not provide the finishing touch. He held the ball effectively up top, and created a churn of opportunities for his fellow forwards, picking up an assist for the opener and making four key passes.


Denzel Dumfries: 6.5/10

Dumfries was a significant improvement over Hateboer on the right, with his bombing runs forward. While he overcooked a couple of crosses and missed a big chance, he more than made up for it by heading the ball into the box and setting up the winner.

Stefan de Vrij: 6/10

After coming on at the break, De Vrij was steady for the most part, but he failed to utilise his ball-playing strengths to initiate any turnovers, instead losing possession twice.

Memphis Depay: 8/10

While Depay could not provide an instant impact as one would have expected, he gambled at the right moment to score the match-winner with a brilliant finish. A real talisman for this Netherlands team.

Steven Bergwijn: N/A

Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

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