The European champions will be licking their wounds tonight after they were handed a humbling defeat courtesy of The Netherlands. It was the first victory of what many hope to be a successful reign under new boss Ronald Koeman, and from the first minute to the last, you probably would’ve thought that it was the men in orange who were heading to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Alas, for now, Koeman will only be able to bask in the glory of this win as the road to the 2020 European Championships continues, with this win coming just a few days after the 2010 World Cup finalists fell to a 1-0 loss against Gareth Southgate’s England.
Out of nowhere
Despite what a quick glance at the scoreline may suggest, the statistics don’t really follow the 3-0 result which we’ve been left with. Portugal managed to maintain possession for large portions of the game but couldn’t do much with it, and things got off to the worst possible start as Memphis Depay put Holland ahead after just 10 minutes. It was no more than the Dutch deserved in this friendly which, for some reason, took place in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Netherlands cruised through the remainder of the first half as the Portuguese, essentially, looked like they just didn’t want to be there. Their comeback victory over Egypt, courtesy of two goals from superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, clearly took a lot out of them as they seemed to have nothing left in the tank. Their opponents, however, would’ve been looking to bounce back from a highly disappointing outing against the English.
Something to build on
Ryan Babel of all people was next up to put Portugal to the sword at the half-hour mark before Virgil van Dijk ensured that Fernando Santos’ men went into the break with a 3-0 deficit to contend with. Two of the three strikes were assisted by De Ligt, and without sounding too overdramatic, the youngster could well be a future world-beater in the making – especially if this performance is anything to go by.
The 5-3-2 formation was initially frowned upon in the lead up to the game, and initially, it appeared as if it’d backfire on Koeman, but if we’ve learned anything about him over the last few years it’s that he’s willing to go against the popular opinion. The aforementioned Ronaldo’s bad luck was summed up after he was unable to win what he felt like was a clear penalty, on an evening which can’t really be blamed on the former Manchester United stand-out.
Portugal’s World Cup preparations will continue with a game against Tunisia in late May.
Portugal: Lopes (5); Cancelo (4), Fonte (5.5), Rolando (5), Rui (6); Quaresma (5), Silva (5), Gomes (5), F.Fernandes (6); B.Fernandes (6), Ronaldo (5.5)
Subs: Neto 45′ (6), Martins 55′ (5.5), Guedes 45′ (5.5), Silva 45′ (6), Mario 78′ (N/A), Moutinho 68′ (5.5)
Netherlands: Cillessen (7.5); Tete (7), de Ligt (9), van Dijk (8), Ake (7.5), Vilhena (6); van de Beek (7.5), Propper (7), Wijnaldum (7); Babel (7.5), Depay (8)
Subs: Til 78′ (N/A), Fosu-Mensah 84′ (N/A), de Vrij 67′ (6), de Roon 68′ (6), Berghuis 84′ (N/A), Kluivert 78′ (N/A)
Referee: Ruddy Buquet
Goals: Depay 11′, Babel 32′, van Dijk 45+2′
Yellow Cards: Cancelo 44′ + 61′, Tete 56′, de Roon 72′
Red Cards: Cancelo 61′
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