Last-gasp Schulz winner gives Germany victory over Dutch
March 25, 2019 | 6:56 PM
by Times News Service
The Germans, who have long been rivals with the Dutch on the football pitch, finally gained revenge for relegating them from the UEFA Nations League. Photo: Marten de Roon

Muscat: A 90th-minute goal from midfielder Nico Schulz gave Germany a winning start to Euro 2020 qualification, with their last-gasp victory over the Netherlands in Amsterdam.

The Germans, who have long been rivals with the Dutch on the football pitch, finally gained revenge for relegating them from the UEFA Nations League and proceeding at their expense to the finals of that tournament.

At the Amsterdam Arena, it was the Germans who struck first. Manager Joachim Low’s team took the lead when Leroy Sane profited from a smart ball from Schulz to smash the four-time World Cup winners in front, his shot ricocheting in off the far post from a tight angle.

After the Manchester City winger opened the lead in the 15th minute, it was ex-Arsenal winger Serge Gnabry who doubled his country’s lead, the Bayern Munich winger slotting in a superb curler in the 34th minute to put his side 2-0 up.

But Ronald Koeman’s team weren’t done just yet: still licking their wounds after failing to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and the 2016 European Championships, the Dutch knew they could not afford to miss out qualification for a third successive tournament.

Three minutes after the restart, it was centre-back Matthijs de Ligt who scored for the Dutch to make it 2-1, and 15 minutes after he’d done that, winger Memphis Depay fired in the equaliser in the 63rd minute.

The game was a pretty even contest, and seemed to befit the occasion: the Dutch had sixteen shots to the Germans’ 11, with six on target from the hosts, as opposed to seven for the visitors. The Oranje also shaded possession, with 54 percent of the ball, as the Nationalmannschaft had slightly less with 46 percent. Even in terms of passes made, the Dutch had 564 to the German’s 495, with both sides sharing a pass accuracy of 84 percent.

But all of those numbers and statistics counted for nothing, as Hoffenheim midfielder Schulz stepped up when it mattered most to give his team a winning start on the road to Euro 2020 qualification, when he drilled home late on to seal the victory and leave no way for the hosts to come from behind the third time.

“It was a tough first half, despite two big opportunities,” said head coach Koeman. “We gave another performance after half-time, with great football and character in the team. I am proud of the players for the fighting spirit they showed yesterday. We deserved a point in the end.”

“Too bad we didn’t get rewarded for our comeback yesterday,” added Marten de Roon. “Lots of stuff to take with us for the next game.”

This is only the Germans’ second win in eight competitive games, and their next round of qualifying will take place on 8 June, when they travel to Belarus, followed by a home game against Estonia three days later. The Dutch, on the other hand, will play their next game in the Nations League semi-finals against England, on June 6.

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