Belgium 1-4 Netherlands: Dutch win in Nations League after Lukaku injury
The Netherlands began their Nations League campaign with a dominant win against a dire Belgium, who also lost Romelu Lukaku to injury.
Memphis Depay was the Dutch star, scoring two superbly taken close-range goals in the rout in Brussels.
Tottenham’s Steven Bergwijn was also on target, netting a long-range opener, with Denzel Dumfries scoring the other via a close-range tap-in.
Michy Batshuayi headed a consolation for Belgium in added time.
It was a frustrating night overall, though, for the Red Devils, with Timothy Castagne striking the bar with a rising shot with the score at 0-0 and the Leicester player also seeing a goal ruled out by VAR after Batshuayi was spotted in an offside position in the build-up.
Dries Mertens also struck the woodwork with an angled shot late in the game for Roberto Martinez’s team.
Anything but a handsome win would have been scant reward for what was a superb display from the hard-working, skilful Netherlands team.
The victory extends Dutch manager Louis van Gaal’s unbeaten start to his second spell as Dutch boss to 10 matches.
Brilliant Dutch send ominous warning
The Netherlands are clearly looking to make up for lost time, having failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and lost in the last eight of Euro 2020.
Having survived Castagne’s early strike against the woodwork, they took complete control of this Group A4 clash, assisted by Lukaku limping from the field after a clash with Nathan Ake, stripping the home side of their chief attacking threat.
It adds further misery after what has been a disappointing club season for Lukaku, who would have expected a greater return than 15 goals after his big-money move from Inter Milan last summer.
There were no such attacking issues for the Dutch, though.
Almost as impressive as the way they repeatedly carved open a weak Belgian defence was their fierce pressing from the front, which saw them steal the ball on numerous occasions to set up opportunities.
Depay will take much of the praise for his coolness in front of goal, but credit is also due to Bergwijn, who has not often looked the part at Tottenham but provided further evidence here that he is best not written off.
With talent across the pitch and the likes of Matthijs de Ligt, Teun Koopmeiners, Noa Lang and more in reserve, they could be one to watch not only in this Nations League but in Qatar at the end of the year.
In contrast, Belgium look to be running out of time if they are finally to capitalise on the talents of their lauded golden generation.
They were booed from the field at full-time and will expect much better when they travel to Wales on 8 June, the same day that the Netherlands host Poland in the other Group A4 match.
9Lukaku7De Bruyne10E Hazard
- 15MeunierSubstituted forCarrascoat 67′minutes
- 20VanakenSubstituted forMvom Onanaat 45′minutes
- 6WitselSubstituted forBatshuayiat 67′minutes
- 9LukakuSubstituted forTrossardat 27′minutes
- 7De Bruyne
- 10E HazardSubstituted forMertensat 45′minutesBooked at 47mins
- 16De Ketelaere
- 18Mvom Onana
- 4van DijkBooked at 89mins
- 5AkéSubstituted forde Ligtat 74′minutes
- 11BerghuisSubstituted forKoopmeinersat 83′minutes
- 21de Jong
- 3de Ligt
- 6de Vrij
- José María Sánchez Martínez
Match ends, Belgium 1, Netherlands 4.
Second Half ends, Belgium 1, Netherlands 4.
Goal! Belgium 1, Netherlands 4. Michy Batshuayi (Belgium) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Toby Alderweireld with a through ball following a corner.
Corner, Belgium. Conceded by Jasper Cillessen.
Attempt saved. Yannick Carrasco (Belgium) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Michy Batshuayi.
Attempt missed. Memphis Depay (Netherlands) right footed shot from more than 35 yards is too high. Assisted by Frenkie de Jong.
Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands) is shown the yellow card.
Foul by Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands).
Michy Batshuayi (Belgium) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Steven Bergwijn (Netherlands) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Toby Alderweireld (Belgium).
Offside, Belgium. Dries Mertens tries a through ball, but Michy Batshuayi is caught offside.
Corner, Belgium. Conceded by Teun Koopmeiners.
Corner, Netherlands. Conceded by Dedryck Boyata.
Substitution, Netherlands. Teun Koopmeiners replaces Steven Berghuis.
Corner, Belgium. Conceded by Virgil van Dijk.
Attempt blocked. Yannick Carrasco (Belgium) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Dries Mertens (Belgium) hits the right post with a right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right. Assisted by Timothy Castagne.
Foul by Matthijs de Ligt (Netherlands).
Michy Batshuayi (Belgium) wins a free kick in the attacking half.