Neighbours Netherlands and Belgium played out a 1-1 draw in Amsterdam which will have done little to further endear club coaches to the merits of international friendlies.
Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany’s injury nightmare apparently continued, this time in national-team colours as he was named in Belgium’s starting XI but failed to line up for kick-off
Once the 126th edition of this derby fixture was underway, it was Netherlands whose players encountered fitness woes either side of Ajax’s Davy Klaassen emphatically dispatching a 38th-minute penalty on home turf.
Stijn Schaars and Vincent Janssen had already limped out and Jeremain Lens, who won the penalty following some clumsy work from Janssen’s Tottenham team-mate Jan Vertonghen, pulled up lame in the second period.
Belgium appeared the most likely side as the game reached its conclusion and their reward came in fortuitous fashion, as Atletico Madrid’s Yannick Carrasco saw his speculative attempt spin home off Joel Veltman eight minutes from time
Debutant Christian Kabasele came into Roberto Martinez’s defence in place of Kompany, where 12th-minute confusion between Laurent Ciman and goalkeeper Simon Mignolet almost let in Janssen to open the scoring.
Netherlands boss Danny Blind was forced into an early reshuffle when Schaars hobbled away from the action to herald Jordy Clasie’s arrival, while Janssen came off worse challenging for a cross with Mignolet and followed his colleague down the tunnel, with Bas Dost introduced.
Belgium’s fluid forward line without a recognised centre-forward struggled for clear-cut chances until Dries Mertens headed over from Kevin De Bruyne’s measured right-wing cross.
Martinez’s back three did not appear such an enticing proposition and Vertonghen pulled down Lens in the area, leaving Klaassen to rifle home from the spot.
The visitors were a fraction from having penalty of their own as the hour approached, with Veltman scything down Carrasco on the left-hand edge of the area.
De Bruyne’s resulting strike was pushed behind at his near post by Maarten Stekelenburg.
The parade of walking wounded continued as Lens suffered a hamstring strain and made way for Manchester United outcast Memphis Depay.
PSV right-back Joshua Brenet enjoyed the distinction of being brought on solely at coach Blind’s behest and the 22-year-old almost marked his maiden cap with a stunning solo goal, as he coolly sauntered through limp Belgium defending before slotting narrowly wide in the 74th minute.
Martinez had revamped his attack with Thorgan Hazard and Romelu Lukaku by this stage and the duo combined with 12 minutes to play, only for in-form striker to turn an inviting cross over.
Veltman’s backside was then the unlikely source of the equaliser and Netherlands were forced to hang on, with Lukaku again going close before linking in slick fashion with Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, who found Stekelenburg to be a more robust barrier than he had been at club level for Everton this weekend.
Blind’s now depleted squad take on Luxembourg in World Cup qualification on Sunday, while Belgium face Estonia with Kompany under an all-too-familiar cloud.
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