Netherlands 2-3 Germany, Northern Ireland 2-1 Belarus and more: Euro 2020 qualifiers - as it happened

In Amsterdam, a late winner gave Germany a win over Netherlands in a brilliant game, while in Belfast, another late winner edged Northern Ireland past Belarus

There were plenty of matches around tonight - here’s out roundup:

It was an exciting night in Amsterdam:

Here’s Ewan Murray’s report from Belfast:

So there we go - what a belter that was. Germany and Netherlands are both improving, but Germany’s quicker, younger players won the day. Thanks for your company and comments - ta-ra.

Tonight's results

Netherlands 2-3 Germany

Northern Ireland 2-1 Belarus

Poland 2-0 Latvia

Slovenia 1-1 Macedonia

Cyprus 0-2 Belgium

GOAL! Poland 2-0 Latvia (Glik, 84)

Poland are heading to the top of Group G with two wins from two.

So Northern Ireland lead Group C with a 100% record. They meant Estonia and Belarus next, before four games against Germany and Netherlands.

Full-time: Netherlands 2-3 Germany

What a game and what a result for Germany. It takes serious stanes to lost a two-goal lead and still win. But why did it take World cup embarrassment for Low to realise that running fast and running lots are important qualities for a football team?

Full-time: Northern Ireland 2-1 Belarus

That’s a huge win!

GOAL! Netherlands 2-3 Germany (Schulz, 90)

Well! Revenge! Lovely play from Gundogan just outside the box, who twirls to feed in a pass the sends Reus to the line. He crosses low, and Schulz, the left-wing-back, punches a composed finish into the far corner. What revenge this is for Germany, who lost 3-0 the last time these sides met.

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Germany have done really well to see Holland away since conceding the equaliser. This has been a pretty nifty game.

Into injury-time in Belfast... and what save that is! Nekhajchik, picked out by a ball over the top, slides into a shot six yard out ... but Peacock-Farrell saves with his feet!

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Change for Germany, Reus replacing Gnabry - who was very good in the first half and scored a very, very good goal.

GOAL! Northern Ireland 2-1 Belarus (Magennis, 87)

This is a beautifully constructed goal. Northern Ireland move the ball from left to right, then down the line, and McNair’s low cross is touched home by Magennis from five yards!

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Gnabry, who’s been quiet this half, picks up a ball that beats De Ligt over his head. At inside-left, he charges Van Dijk, ducking inside, outside and inside again, before drilling a shot just wide.

Germany win a free-kick close to the top-left corner of the box, and Kroos looks to shoot ... he tries to fool Cillessen but going inside the near post, but ends up finding the side-netting.

GOAL! Poland 1-0 Latvia (Lewandowski, 76)

Of course it had to be him.

I’m surprised that Koeman hasn’t made changes. Anyway, nice from Memphis in midfield, eluding a challenge and looking to play Wijnaldum in, but putting too much on his through-ball.

Brilliant ball in from Lewis, out on the left, and Lafferty is across his man ... but put off by the keeper’s charge, flicking across the face of goal. Lafferty is replaced by Boyce.

“Well this game is a delight after the torture of Scotland this afternoon,” emails Tony Reekie. “And if someone could let us know who is co-commentator on Sky is we’d be very grateful. My father thinks it’s Glenn Hoddle and he’s doing our heads in. He also thinks Koeman’s assistant is Fabio Capello or at the least his brother...”

I think it’s Tony Gale, but I might be wrong.

It’s gone pretty quiet in both Amsterdam and Belfast.

I’d not seen this. Football is so, so good.

Craig Cathcart gets underneath a corner and heads high over the bar.

De Jong and Wijnaldum snap into Sane, a snapshot that defines the half. Germany replace Goretzka with Gundogan.

Northern Ireland make a change, Magennis replacing McGinn.

I wonder if Germany regret sitting back and allowing Netherlands onto them. In fairness, the home side are also pressing more and running harder, but they’re having ball and space handed to them.

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GOAL! Netherland 2-2 Germany (Depay, 63)

A mess in the box, Depay fighting through a challenge but surrounded. The ball breaks to Wijnaldum,who touches off for his pal, and he shows good composure to plant home an oblique shot across Neuer from close range. That’s eight goals and five assists in his last 12 internationals.

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Oh yes!

koeman netherlands
Hans Gillhaus of PSV, Ronald Koeman of PSV after winning the Dutch championship on April 9, 1988 in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Photograph: VI-Images/VI-Images via Getty Images

What a snap this is!

koeman holland
Johnny van het Schip of Ajax, Jetty Weels, Sonny Silooy of Ajax, Mildred Douglas, Dick Schoenaker of Ajax, Caroline de Windt, Ronald Spelbos of Ajax, Ronald Koeman of Ajax, goalkeeper Hans Galjee of Ajax during a photoshoot with Mai Tai on July 12, 1985 in Schiphol. Photograph: VI-Images/VI-Images via Getty Images

Germany are sitting deeper now, waiting to nail it on the counter. I wonder if Ronald Koeman is thinking about a change.

Germany have steadied themselves. In general, they’ve had a bit more midfield class and the legs and skill up front.

In Belfast, Northern Ireland are still at it, but Belarus are standing strong.

I heartily recommend Slovenia as a holiday destination. Here’s the glorious Lake Bohinj.

bohinj
Nice. Photograph: Peter Elia/The Man who hiked the world

GOAL! Slovenia 1-1 FYR Macedonia (Bardhi, 47)

All square in Ljubljana, a city with some of the greatest ice cream I’ve ever guzzled.

Eventually, and after more danger, Sane streaks away with the ball – and Dumfries nabs him with his third swing.

It yields another, and Netherlands are looking good for another goal.

Netherlands are moving it much quicker now, Depay and Wijnaldum combining to win a corner.

GOAL! Netherlands 1-2 Germany (De Ligt, 48)

A corner is cleared and finds its way back to the taker, Depay, courtesy of a nice flick from Promes. This time, the cross is a beaut, and De Ligt leaps early and high, contorts his neck, and flings a header into the side-netting. We’ve got ourselves a ball-game!

“As far as I know, there has never been a ‘Virgil’s World Cup Wind-Ups’,” says Marie Meyer, “and so, therefore, it’s Van Dijk at a canter.”

It’s all part of the legend.

And back underway in Amsterdam.

Back underway in Belfast.

“Hi, was the WC where Rio ‘bossed it’ the one where Sol Campbell made the Team of the Tournament and Rio didn’t?” asks Geoff Wignall.

I’ve a suspicion he knows the answer to that. I don’t think the official team necessarily has all the answers, but maybe I’m wrong.

“Van Nistelrooy was one of the best strikers the Premier League has ever seen,” says Simon Horwell. “He’s up there with Henry and Shearer. He was certainly a level above Drogba, who was himself a top player. The level of technique he had in his finishing, close-control, volleying, and hold up play was astonishing. Anyone who watched him regularly will also know that, at his peak, he had a ferocious turn of pace, and exceptional dribbling ability.

Van Dijk should not be uttered in the same bracket as Ferdinand. A player who produced 8+ years of world class performances. Van Dijk has around 12-18 months of top level performances, and has a long way to go to be considered of the same calibre. Ferdinand and Vidic may well have been the best defensive partnership the premier league has ever seen, but the idea that Vidic did “most of the work”, is frankly nonsense. Sorry. Their styles were complementary, but individually, Ferdinand is one of the best centre-halves I’ve ever seen play the game. In my football watching time, (mid 80s to present), he’s a top 10 CB.”

I agree with almost all of this, and we’ve been watching football roughly the same amount of time. Van Nistelrooy wasn’t as good a player as Henry, who made as many as he scored - though Van Nistelrooy’s European record was outrageous. I agree he was a class above Drogba and also that he was better than Shearer, who I penalise for doing almost nothing in Europe and rarely playing under pressure. Other people might use different criteria to judge, like quality of team-mates and such, and fair enough, but what players did against the best and under the most pressure is important “for me”.

Ferdinand is probably in my top five centre-backs, but in the league, Vidic was so dominant and United were so good that he didn’t have a lot to do a lot of the time. It’s not a criticism, but because his team didn’t have to defend much and because it was his partner’s job to attack the ball, he had a fairly relaxing time of it.

I’ll be back presently.

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Other half-times (or should that be halves-time?)

Poland 0-0 Latvia

Cyprus 0-2 Belgium

Slovenia 1-0 Macedonia

Half-time: Netherlands 0-2 Germany

This is a really fun game and Germany have been excellent, too quick and slick for the home side. Koeman has work to do.

Half-time: Northern Ireland 1-1 Belarus

Northern Ireland will fancy themselves to score another, but a loss of concentration after going ahead has made things more difficult than necessary.

Jonny Evans celebrates scoring the opener.
Jonny Evans celebrates scoring the opener. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

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“Sorry, which world cup did Rio ‘boss it’?” asks Ben Russell. “The one where England went out at the quarters as usual?”

I think it’s fair to say that he was excellent in it nonetheless.

“Evertonians will recognise this as a Koeman side,” tweets Gary Naylor. “A step too slow in foot and brain.”

I’ve no idea what Babel is doing in this team. But it’s also fair to praise Germany, who are playing really well and set up to cause maximum aggravation.

“When I watch VVD play sometimes it looks to me that he is on the ground to teach the kids around him what to do,” says Gokul. “Tell the defenders whom to track, midfielders whom to pass etc. Being that casual will lead to that type of goal.”

My colleague Paul Doyle once suggested that he finds the game too easy, and I see his point, but I also think that concentrating hard and staying disciplined is a big part of it.

Jones gets the ball, turns, dashes, and curls a lovely low cross into the middle but Lafferty can’t quite catch up with it.

GOAL! Slovenia 1-0 FYR Macedonia (Zajc, 34)

Israel’s position at the top of a laughably weak pool - Poland, Latvia and Austria are the other teams - is under threat.

WHAT A GOAL! Netherlands 0-2 Germany (Gnabry 34)

Well that worked well. Gnabry picks up the ball on the left and Van Dijk is slow to come across - he can, after all, resolve this just by being himself. Except Gnabry scythes across him, steals a yard, and curls an absolute jazzer into the far side-netting!

Serge Gnabry is mobbed by his teammates.
Serge Gnabry is mobbed by his teammates. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

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De Ligt has been sent to left centre-back so Van Dijk can handle Sane.

GOAL! Northern Ireland 1-1 Belarus (Stasevich, 33)

Stasevic takes possession on the left, comes inside, and allowed time to shoot, does; the ball flicks off Dallas, loops over Peacock-Farrell, and that’s how quickly things can go wrong.

“Before the word was hijacked, Holland were the ultimate hipsters,” tweets Gary Naylor. “Now, instead of Jonny Rep and Johan Neeskens, we have Memphis Depay and Ryan Babel. You don’t need to be Einstein to see that as a relative decline.”

Almost anyone would be a relative decline, but it’s also true that these aren’t as good as Van Basten, Bergkamp and others either.

GOAL! Northern Ireland 1-0 Belarus (Evans 30)

A corner goes short and McGinn crosses; at the near post, Davis flicks on and Evans plants a header past Klimovich. Northern Ireland have worked for that.

Another save from Neuer! Promes bends over a fine cross and Babel runs off Kehrer who I don’t know what he’s doing. Again, the contact is decent but the direction isn’t, and the keeper beats away one he should never have smelled.

GOAL! Cyprus 0-2 Belgium (Batshuayi 18)

I daresay Belgium win this one.

Saved Neuer! A long ball down the right, De Roon to Depay, is cleverly flicked on, and Promes then pokes through to Babel. He could take a moment to think but instead punches a hard sidefooter that rises nicely for the keeper, who gets more than enough on it.

“Rio was so good that one season he did not concede a single free-kick,” emails Duncan Edwards. “Think about it, he was so good he didn’t need to resort to any fouls at all.”

Can that really be true? No bookings, I can have, but that doesn’t sound quite right to me. He did also have the good fortune to play next to Nemanja Vidic, who did most of the fouling and, let’s be real, most of the work.

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I read today that Didier Drogba was quicker than Van Nistelrooy, with better hold-up play and was generally better - he was picked ahead of him for the BBC’s Premier League-era foreigners XI. Because of how many he scored and how much pleasure he took in scoring them, people remember Van Nistelrooy as a predator, which isn’t really true. He was a predator, but he was lots of other things too, and made his own goals as well as scavenging in the six-yard box.

“That Euro88 link sent me off down the YouTube wormhole”, tweets AsNaturalAsRain. “Not that there’s an actual debate about RVN vs PVH, but do you remember this piece of absolute filth from Van Nistelrooy? That 2008 team were a delight to watch.

Uff marone!

GOAL! Cyprus 0-1 Belgium (Hazard 10)

This could be the first of a few. I’m half-expecting Lukaku to stat-pad even though he’s at home, injured.

You’ve got to say, Jogi Low’s tactics have been spot-on so far, the roving forwards proving pretty tricky to mark.

GOAL! Netherlands 0-1 Germany (Sane 15)

This is a gorgeous goal. Kroos takes the ball on halfway, bursts past his man - ! - and sends Schulz away down the left. He crosses and Sane screeches across De Ligt, who falls over in time to watch a fine first touch and finish, belted across Cillessen into the far side-netting.

Leroy Sane (right) is congratulated by Germany’s defender Niklas Suele.
Leroy Sane (right) is congratulated by Germany’s defender Niklas Suele. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

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De Jong gives it away in centrefield and Kimmich breaks towards the Dutch box. He should shoot but tries to skirt the final man, which allows De Jong to atone for his error via immaculate slide-tackle.

“Why compare Van Dijk to Rio?” asks Noel Figueiredo. “Does anyone compare Kane to Cruyff? (With all apologies to those who require it.)”

I guess because I keep hearing and reading pundits say that Van Dijk is the best or among the best of the Premier League era.

I think we’re going to stop timestamping minutes, given the games didn’t start simultaneously.

8 min “Pierre van Hooijdonk would certainly know all about the bending of space and time,” emails Charles Antaki. “He was experimenting with it scientifically while on strike at Forest, successfully being in a different space and having no time for the manager.”

Relatively speaking, he had better things to do.

6 min Germany win a corner down the right, which Van Dijk nuts away in short order.

6 min No goals in any of tonight’s games so far.

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6 min In Belfast, Northern Ireland have started well enough but Belarus look sharp on the counter and a whole lot better than Estonia, who were scraped by the other night.

Saville in action for Northern ireland against Maevski for Belarus.
Saville in action for Northern ireland against Maevski for Belarus. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters

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4 min



3 min Germany - “the Germans” - have started well.

2 min Lovely from Germany, Gnabry feeding Sane down the left, taking the return in the middle and skating across Blind before swivelling into a low shot that Cillessen shoves away at his near post.

2 min Van Dijk - and De Ligt - might find it an interesting night against Gnabry and Sane, who have pace, trickery and movement.

1 min We’re away at the JoCro, as no one calls it.

Netherland’s Marten de Roon in action with Germany’s Leroy Sane.
Netherland’s Marten de Roon in action with Germany’s Leroy Sane. Photograph: Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters

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Shall we talk about Virgil van Dijk? Very good, yes, but still to do very much relative to those we’re told he’s as good as. By his age, Rio Ferdinand had won a league title and bossed it at a World Cup, and went on to win five more leagues and a Champions League. Van Dijk has work to do.

The Dutch give their anthem plenty; Daley Blind is such a dish. Pick that non sequitur out.

Tony Gayle thinks it’s a good thing that Dutch football is on the up. Great stuff.

mascots of Netherlands enter the stadium.
mascots of Netherlands enter the stadium. Photograph: Soccrates Images/Getty Images

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The players are out in Belfast and Dam.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Denzel Dumfries does tonight, mainly because Denzel Dumfries is an absolutely majestic name.

Teams, Cyprus v Belgium!

Cyprus: Pardo, Kousoulos, Junior, Merkis, Laifis, Papoulis, Margaça, Artymatas, Ioannou, Antoniou, Efrem.

Belgium: Courtois, Vertonghen, Vermaelen, Alderweireld, Dendoncker, Tielemans, Thorgan, Castagne, Hazard, Mertens, Batshuayi.

Already today: Scotland won in San Marino, which really showed everyone; Israel beat Austria 4-2; Hungary came from behind to beat Croatia 2-1.

And this. Also a Sunday night, as I recall.

What a game this was.

Michael O’Neill tells Sky that his team are unchanged because there was no need to change it. More as I get it.

I’m delighted to report that my SkyGo isn’t working, so please bear with me while I resolve things.

And there’s more!

“Instead of discussing the Dutch game plan,” tweets De Voorzitter, “ Pierre van Hooijdonk is explaining general relativity to the Dutch tv audience.”

In tribute to Cruyff, no doubt. Maybe I’m misremembering a grudge, but was there a time he was picked ahead of Van Nistelrooy?

Back to the main e-vent, today is the yahrzeit of the genius, Johan Cruyff, may his memory be for a blessing. One of very few footballers who changed the game and more than that, changed the world, everything we see tonight and always is in some small or large way thanks to him. A hero.

Northern Ireland v Belarus teams

Northern Ireland (a 4-3-3 so it is): Peacock-Farrell; Dallas, Cathcart, Evans, Lewis; McNair, Davis, Saville; McGinn, Lafferty, Jones. Subs: McGovern. Hazard, McLaughlin, Flanagan, McAuley, Hughes, Ferguson, Thompson, Magennis, Smyth, Boyce, Washington.

Belarus (also a 4-3-3): Klimovich, Dragun, Martynovich, Sivakov, Volodko, Maevki, Shitov, Savitskiy, Hleb, Stasevich, Laptev. Subs: Gorbunov, Rios, Kendysh, Volkov, Nekhajchik, Polyakov, Kislyak, Signevich, Chichkan, Saroka, Kovalev, Putilo

Overpopulated dugouts aside, I’m buzzing for this. The Dutch are just a little bit into an upswing, so are playing with confidence. I’m excited for another look at De Ligt and De Jong, and hoping Bergwijn gets a run at some point.

As for Germany, they’re guessing, basically. Kimmich, Goretzka and Sane might be special, but the rest? I’m not sure. I’d like to see what Tah can do, and I’d have gone for Reus ahead of Gnabry, but here we are.

I almost got onto both benches

Netherlands v Germany teams!

Netherlands (a classical 3-5-2): Cillessen; Dumfries, De Ligt, Van Dijk, Blind; De Roon, Wijnaldum, De Jong F; Promes, Memphis, Babel. Subs: Berghuis, Bizot, Ake, Bergwijn, Roasario, Van de Beek, Strootman, Van Aanholt, De Jong L, Vilhena, Zoet, Hateboer.

Germany (a desperate 3-1-4-2): Neuer; Sule, Ginter, Rudiger; Kimmich; Kehrer, Goretzka, Kroos, Schulz; Gnabry, Sane. Subs: Ter Stegen, Gundogan, Reus, Havertz, Eggestein, Werner, Tah, Brandt, Halstenberg, Trapp, Stark.

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Preamble

Sometimes you really don’t need to say anything. Obviously you still do anyway because what else are you gonna do, but if you didn’t, no one would mind. Such is Netherlands v Germany, the classic match of international football and which arrives for our delectation this evening. More history than Ken and Deirdre, more class than Debbie Greenwood and more needle than Cleopatra, there is no fixture that comes close to its rich tapestry of everything.

And, on top of that, we’ve also got Northern Ireland v Belarus, Cyprus v Belgium, Slovenia v North Macedonia and more. Long story short: it’s better than Antiques Roadshow.

Kick-offs: 7.45pm GMT

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