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Northern Ireland v Netherlands as it happened: Goalless draw after NI secured Euro 2020 play-off spot

 

In Rotterdam, a draw for Northern Ireland against the mighty Netherlands would have been regarded as a spectacular result but there was a sense of sheer disappointment and missed opportunity at Saturday night’s goalless stalemate with the Dutch in Belfast.

Inspirational skipper Steven Davis, on his 116th appearance for his country which made him the UK’s most capped midfielder — overtaking David Beckham — missed a first-half penalty, blazing the ball over the bar.

The Netherlands, who for only the third time in 19 matches under Ronald Koeman failed to score, have qualified for their first major tournament since 2014, while Northern Ireland must be content with next March’s play-offs, the draw for which comes in Bucharest later this month.

It was a valiant effort from the men in green, sporting their new retro style home tops on what will likely be Michael O’Neill’s farewell match after joining Stoke City as boss last week.

But on a crisp November night, they couldn’t find the goal that would have gained revenge for the agony in Rotterdam and sadly it was the skipper, who has gifted Northern Ireland so many wonderful memories, who failed to be clinical when it mattered.

O’Neill, who had promised much more attacking intent at Windsor Park, started Cardiff City winger Gavin Whyte, reverting Stuart Dallas to right back with Michael Smith reduced to a role on the bench. Northern Ireland’s goal hero in Rotterdam, Josh Magennis, won the battle for the starting attacker’s role with Kyle Lafferty acting as substitute.

Koeman made three changes, two enforced, from the first game with Quincy Promes, Joel Veltman and Donny van de Beek coming into his side.

After his recent bout of flu, Liverpool’s Gini Wijnaldum had to settle for a place on the bench along with Denzel Dunfries while Memphis Depay was ruled out entirely due to his ongoing hamstring issue.

In an explosive opening from the hosts, Corry Evans couldn’t quite direct the ball into the net or to a team-mate after keeper Jasper Cillessen failed to control a backpass; Magennis saw a glancing header just go inches wide after a delectable cross from Paddy McNair; and George Saville had a thunderous shot blocked following a poor punch from the Valencia No.1.

It was clear, with Dallas an offensive weapon from right back and Whyte’s tenacity down the wing, allied with McNair’s wonderful deliveries, they were attempting to exploit the vulnerable Daley Blind at every opportunity.

Euro 2020 qualifiers: Northern Ireland v Netherlands [Photos] Close

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill, who has managed his last home game at Windsor Park, pictured with team captain Steven Davis after the game finished 0-0. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill, who has managed his last home game at Windsor Park, pictured with team captain Steven Davis after the game finished 0-0. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill, who has managed his last home game at Windsor Park, pictured with team captain Steven Davis after the game finished 0-0. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill, who has managed his last home game at Windsor Park, pictured with team captain Steven Davis after the game finished 0-0. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Northern Ireland's Steven Davis misses his penalty after Netherlands' Joel Veltman uses his arm to control the ball during Saturday night's UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier at the National Stadium, Belfast.     Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Northern Ireland's Steven Davis misses his penalty after Netherlands' Joel Veltman uses his arm to control the ball during Saturday night's UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast, Northern Ireland - 16th November 2019 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Northern Ireland's Steven Davis misses his penalty after Netherlands' Joel Veltman uses his arm to control the ball during Saturday nights UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier at the National Stadium, Belfast.     Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast, Northern Ireland - 16th November 2019 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Northern Ireland's Steven Davis misses his penalty after Netherlands' Joel Veltman uses his arm to control the ball during Saturday nights UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

William Cherry/Presseye

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis takes a penalty which he fails to score as Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk looks on. 


Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis takes a penalty which he fails to score as Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk looks on. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Pacemaker Belfast 16-11-19
Northern Ireland v Netherlands - Euro 2020 Qualifier
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis misses a penalty during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker Belfast 16-11-19 Northern Ireland v Netherlands - Euro 2020 Qualifier Northern Ireland's Steven Davis misses a penalty during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

PMAKER

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 16th November 2019

UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifier Group C.  Northern Ireland Vs Netherlands at the National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis takes a penalty which he fails to score at NetherlandsÕ captain Virgil van Dijk looks on. 


Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 16th November 2019 UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifier Group C. Northern Ireland Vs Netherlands at the National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis takes a penalty which he fails to score at NetherlandsÕ captain Virgil van Dijk looks on. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Pacemaker - Belfast -  -16/11/2019.        
Northern Ireland v Holland Euro 2020 Qualifier Windsor Park Belfast  
Netherland's Virgil van Dijk contests the ref  penalty decision    In tonight"s game At Windsor Park                                             
 Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker - Belfast - -16/11/2019. Northern Ireland v Holland Euro 2020 Qualifier Windsor Park Belfast Netherland's Virgil van Dijk contests the ref penalty decision In tonight"s game At Windsor Park Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

Netherlands goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen saves a shot  the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 16, 2019. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wireduring the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 16, 2019. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

Netherlands goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen saves a shot the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 16, 2019. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wireduring the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying match at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 16, 2019. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

PA

Pacemaker Belfast 16-11-19
Northern Ireland v Netherlands - Euro 2020 Qualifier
Northern Ireland's manager Michael O'Neill  during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker Belfast 16-11-19 Northern Ireland v Netherlands - Euro 2020 Qualifier Northern Ireland's manager Michael O'Neill during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

PMAKER

Press Eye - Belfast, Northern Ireland - 16th November 2019 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Northern Ireland's Bailey Peacock-Farrell during Saturday nights UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier at the National Stadium, Belfast.     Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast, Northern Ireland - 16th November 2019 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Northern Ireland's Bailey Peacock-Farrell during Saturday nights UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast, Northern Ireland - 16th November 2019 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Northern Ireland's Corry Evans with Netherlands' Davy Propper during Saturday nights UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier at the National Stadium, Belfast.     Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast, Northern Ireland - 16th November 2019 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Northern Ireland's Corry Evans with Netherlands' Davy Propper during Saturday nights UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

William Cherry/Presseye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 16th November 2019-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

Northern Ireland  Bailey Peacock-Farrell against Netherlands   during Saturday's EURO 2020 Qualifier at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.
Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

PressEye-Northern Ireland- 16th November 2019-Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Northern Ireland Bailey Peacock-Farrell against Netherlands during Saturday's EURO 2020 Qualifier at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Picture by Brian Little/PressEye

Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans with Netherlands' Jasper Cillessen during Saturday nights UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier at the National Stadium, Belfast.     Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans with Netherlands' Jasper Cillessen during Saturday nights UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

William Cherry/Presseye

Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis during Saturday night's UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier against the Netherlands at the National Stadium, Belfast.     Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis during Saturday night's UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier against the Netherlands at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

William Cherry/Presseye

Pacemaker - Belfast -  -16/11/2019.        
Northern Ireland v Holland Euro 2020 Qualifier Windsor Park Belfast  
  Northern Ireland Josh Magennis   shot just past the post  In tonight"s game At Windsor Park                                             
 Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker - Belfast - -16/11/2019. Northern Ireland v Holland Euro 2020 Qualifier Windsor Park Belfast Northern Ireland Josh Magennis shot just past the post In tonight"s game At Windsor Park Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

Press Eye - Belfast, Northern Ireland - 16th November 2019 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Northern Ireland with Netherlands during Saturday nights UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier at the National Stadium, Belfast.     Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast, Northern Ireland - 16th November 2019 - Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Northern Ireland with Netherlands during Saturday nights UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

William Cherry/Presseye

Northern Ireland manager Micheal O'Neill with Chris Brunt before Saturday night's UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier against Netherlands at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

Northern Ireland manager Micheal O'Neill with Chris Brunt before Saturday night's UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier against Netherlands at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 16th November 2019

UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifier Group C.  Northern Ireland Vs Netherlands at the National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 

Northern Ireland fans  


Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 16th November 2019 UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifier Group C. Northern Ireland Vs Netherlands at the National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Northern Ireland fans Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 16th November 2019

UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifier Group C.  Northern Ireland Vs Netherlands at the National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 

Northern Ireland fans  


Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 16th November 2019 UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifier Group C. Northern Ireland Vs Netherlands at the National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. Northern Ireland fans Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Pacemaker - Belfast -  -16/11/2019.        
Northern Ireland v Holland Euro 2020 Qualifier Windsor Park Belfast  
Dutch fan    In tonight"s game At Windsor Park                                             
 Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker - Belfast - -16/11/2019. Northern Ireland v Holland Euro 2020 Qualifier Windsor Park Belfast Dutch fan In tonight"s game At Windsor Park Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

The Dutch, with their first effort on goal on 10 minutes, struck the bar through Steven Berghuis after a pull back from Promes but the men in orange were largely reduced to long range efforts and becoming exasperated with Northern Ireland’s resilient defending.

Atalanta’s Martin de Roon, fresh from playing Manchester City in the Champions League, was the first player to be booked, bringing down a rampaging McNair in the centre circle.

With a draw enough for the Dutch to qualify, the Oranje were keen to slow the game down and the crowd let Koeman know how ironic this was considering his critical outburst following the game in Rotterdam.

The drama intensified on the half hour mark when yet another tantalising cross from McNair, was met by Saville with the ball appearing to strike the arm of Veltman.

Polish referee Szymon Marciniak immediately booked the Ajax full back and, despite vocal protestations led by skipper Virgil van Dijk, the official somewhat harshly awarded a penalty.

Inexplicably though, Davis struck his spot kick over the bar.

The miss seemed to unnerve the Rangers ace, despite every effort to shake it off. Three of his last four goals for his country had come from the spot.

The relieved Netherlands, realising they’d dodged a bullet, attempted to storm the Northern Ireland rearguard but when they were thwarted, they were left to long range efforts with Blind blasting over the bar before Koeman brought on Brighton’s Davy Propper for the ineffective de Roon.

Davis was booked for a late foul five minutes from the interval – borne more out of frustration than misjudgement.

He was still linking up with McNair and Whyte down the right but, as on so many occasions, coming up against a world class defensive pairing in van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt, it was extremely difficult to find their man in the box.

Just as in Rotterdam, Northern Ireland’s defensive structure during the first-half was so solid that goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell barely had a save to make, despite a few close shaves.

At the start of the second-half, after a Jamal Lewis cross, Magennis couldn’t adjust quickly to direct his header goalwards but then Northern Ireland were suddenly swamped largely in their own half — hardly surprising against the 12th best side in the world.

Sustained pressure was always coming when the team is packed full of Champions League talent.

However, poor ball retention from the home team and nice interplay from the Dutch allowed the Oranje to attack at will but their only real effort of note during this period was when Ryan Babel outjumped Craig Cathcart and his powerful low header was well saved by Peacock-Farrell.

In an effort to move Dallas to the left wing, O’Neill utilised his first substitution on 58 minutes, bringing on Hearts right back Smith for Saville.

Koeman then introduced the man who scored Holland’s agonising go-ahead goal in Rotterdam, Luuk de Jong, and seconds later, Cathcart had to powerfully intercept a dangerous Blind cross before it fell to the replacement inside the six-yard box.

Niall McGinn became the 20th player to win 60 or more caps for Northern Ireland when he took over from Corry Evans for just over the last quarter of the game.

O’Neill’s men continued to be defensively astute as the Dutch failed to turn their large possession count into clear goalscoring opportunities.

With 10 minutes to go, the hosts threw on Blackpool midfielder Jordan Thompson for Lewis, with Dallas asked to play his fourth position of the night, slotting into the left back role.

Both teams toiled to break the deadlock but neither really threatened — despite plenty of endeavour from the men in green.

This was the Netherlands’ first game in Belfast since October 1977 and, with qualification for Euro 2020 secure following this draw, they celebrated as if they had won the game just as they had done 42 years ago.

On Saturday night’s showing, however, they’ll be happy to wait another 40-odd years before returning.

For boss O’Neill, it wasn’t the big scalp he craved or a final game showdown in Frankfurt with Germany — but a deserved draw with the Dutch, in the cold light of day, is not a bad way to see out his last game at Windsor Park.

Here's how the game unfolded:

 

Belfast Telegraph