The Netherlands booked their spot at next year’s European Championships with a 0-0 draw against Northern Ireland in Belfast.
Ronald Koeman’s men were not at their best throughout the evening and Steven Davis really should have given the hosts the lead from the penalty spot in the first-half but blazed his effort over the bar. There were chances for both sides to earn three points but neither were able to be clinical enough to get the win. As it happened though, that was enough for Holland to book their place at the Euros, whilst Northern Ireland are at least assured of a playoff place.
Early chances pass hosts by
Northern Ireland had some great opportunities to take the lead early on in Belfast but somehow missed them all. First, Corry Evans chased down Jasper Cillessen and saw a ricochet bounce off of him and wide of goal. Then, Leicester defender Jonny Evans somehow put a header wide from a corner. Josh Magennis also spurned a fantastic opportunity as his header dropped just off target.
The hosts were also made to pay for those missed chances as the Netherlands almost claimed the lead. Quincy Promes showed fantastic feet to dribble into the Northern Ireland area and cut the ball back for Steven Berghuis. However, the Feyenoord man sent his effort onto the crossbar. Ryan Babel also had a sight of goal but sent a weak effort straight at Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
Davies misses from the spot
The theme of missed chances then continued for Northern Ireland and this time it was from the penalty spot. Awarded a spot-kick for a handball by Joel Veltman, Davis claimed the huge responsibility but somehow lifted the ball high over the Dutch crossbar, when a lead really would have been crucial.
Improved after the break, the Netherlands created a few chances to make the hosts rue that penalty miss. Babel forced a good stop out of the goalkeeper with a tricky downward header.
They continued to tire their hosts but with a draw good enough for Dutch qualification, they did not commit too many men forwards in the search of a winning goal. Hence, they were able to frustrate their hosts and limit them to few chances throughout the second-half.
Northern Ireland will be severely disappointed that they weren’t able to get a victory considering the chances in the first-half and of course Davis’ penalty miss. Had they got that goal, they could well have been a great bet to get the three points, especially taking into account how well they performed defensively. Michael O’Neill’s men were probably the better side but on reflection a draw against one of the best sides in Europe is never a bad result.
Northern Ireland: Peacock-Farrell (7); Lewis (7) (Thompson (N/A), 81′), J. Evans (7), Cathcart (6), C. Evans (7) (McGinn (5), 71′); Saville (6) (Smith (6), 58′), Davis (7), McNair (7); Whyte (7), Magennis (5), Dallas (6).
Netherlands: Cillessen (6); Blind (6), van Dijk (7), de Ligt (7), Veltman (6); van de Beek (6), de Roon (5) (Propper (6), 36′), F. De Jong (7); Babel (6) (Ake (N/A), 90′), Berghuis (6) (L. de Jong (5), 65′), Promes (6).
Referee: Szymon Marciniak
Yellow Cards: de Roon (11′), Veltman (30′), Davies (40′), Dallas (84′)
Red Cards: N/A
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