Erling Haaland was on target as Louis van Gaal had to settle for a 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw with Norway in his first match back in charge of the Netherlands.
Haaland opened the scoring with his first goal of Norway’s qualifying campaign at the Ullevaal Stadion on Wednesday, but Davy Klaassen equalised in the first half.
Prolific Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland struck the post in the second half in Oslo, where neither side could fashion a winner.
A draw in Van Gaal’s first game in his third spell as coach of his country leaves both the Netherlands and Norway a point behind Group G leaders Turkey, who were held to a 2-2 draw by Montenegro.
— OnsOranje (@OnsOranje) September 1, 2021
Cody Gakpo was handed a first Netherlands start and he had two early chances to open the scoring, Andre Hansen palming his header wide before the forward bent a shot wide from just outside the penalty area.
Oranje debutant Justin Bijlow came out quickly and made himself big to deny Haaland when Jens Hauge sent him clear with an incisive pass, but the Dortmund frontman put Norway in front 20 minutes in.
Memphis Depay was at fault, losing possession in his own half, and Haaland controlled a ball over the top from Stefan Strandberg before poking into the far corner with his left foot as returning captain Virgil van Dijk’s desperate last-ditch tackle was in vain.
The Netherlands responded well and they were level nine minutes before the break, Klaassen bursting into the box to convert Georginio Wijnaldum’s cross from close range.
Depay stung Hansen’s palms and Donyell Malen, who replaced Steven Berghuis at half-time, flashed a shot wide as the Oranje dictated the play after the interval.
Haaland ought to have restored Norway’s lead on the break after 64 minutes, when he rattled the inside of the post with a left-foot strike after Martin Odegaard slipped him in.
Denzel Dumfries missed a great chance to snatch all three points with the last kick of the game, but a late Montenegro equaliser was a boost for both sides.
What does it mean? Group G wide open
Van Gaal would have seen plenty of scope for improvement in his first match since replacing Frank de Boer, who stepped down after the Netherlands were knocked out of Euro 2020 by the Czech Republic in the round of 16.
Dumfries, a shining light for the Oranje in the European Championship, surprisingly started on the bench but really ought to have won it right at the end.
Turkey looked set to go three points clear at the top of the group, but Montenegro – level with the Netherlands and Norway on seven points – denied them deep into stoppage time to leave the group wide open after four matches.
Haaland a handful
Haaland is one the most sought after players in world football and he really should have had a hat-trick.
The 21-year-old would normally put away the great chance he was presented with before finding the net and came agonisingly close when he struck the post with only Bijlow to beat.
Haaland has scored seven goals in six games for club and country this season.
What might have been for Gakpo
Gakpo was given his first chance from the start in a full international and the PSV youngster will be disappointed not to have marked it with a goal.
He caused the Norway defence problems, but only hit the target with two of his six shots.
The Netherlands will have home advantage when they take on Montenegro on Saturday, while Norway face an away clash with Latvia.
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