Koeman praises Dutch courage as side book Nations League Finals spot
Van Dijk had a last minute equaliser for Ronald Koeman’s side.
Holland boss Ronald Koeman praised his players for the character they had shown after a dramatic late fightback saw them draw 2-2 against Germany and secure a place in the Nations League Finals.
Skipper Virgil Van Dijk volleyed in a 90th-minute equaliser in Gelsenkirchen five minutes after Quincy Promes had netted the visitors’ first as they sealed the point they needed to move above France and claim top spot in Group A1.
The Dutch, who had gone 2-0 down early on following goals from Timo Werner and Leroy Sane, will now join England, Portugal and Switzerland at next summer’s finals.
Koeman said in quotes on uefa.com: “The team showed character. We kept going.
“I didn’t think we played well. Maybe at this stage it’s too much for us to play two matches in such a short period of time against such high-quality opposition (Holland played world champions France in Rotterdam on Friday, winning 2-0).
“Let’s not forget, this Germany is an excellent team, maybe even better than France. But we also showed that we can recover when playing opponents of this calibre.”
Koeman revealed a note from his assistants that he passed on to the field via full-back Kenny Tete had instructed Liverpool centre-back Van Dijk to move into an attacking position.
“I got that note from Dwight Lodeweges and Kees van Wonderen,” Koeman said.
“When we were 2-0 down they asked me if we should change things around and I said yes. Next thing I knew I had the note. So I gave it to Kenny.
“And in the end it’s fantastic that the equaliser came from the guy who was told on the note to push up front.”
Germany – who made a group-stage exit at the summer’s World Cup, which Holland failed to qualify for – went into the contest with their relegation from the pool already assured.
The faces in the dressing room were all a bit down
Boss Joachim Low said was quoted as saying on www.dfb.de: “I’m a bit disappointed with the result, but I’ve seen more positives than negatives over the entire game.
“We have to make the third goal, which is of course bitter in the end. The faces in the dressing room were all a bit down. Everyone would have liked to have rewarded themselves today.
“This runs somewhat through 2018, that we do not succeed.
“Basically we still have a lot of work to do. We’ve only seen each other three weeks in total since the World Cup.
“The upheaval can’t just happen from one day to the next, you can’t just stomp a new team out of the ground. There is far too little time for that to happen. However, the process has been set in motion and has already progressed a bit.”
Sane, not included in the World Cup squad, added to his goal in Thursday’s 3-0 friendly win over Russia.
And Low said of the Manchester City winger: “I am very happy with him. He is going the way we need.
“Leroy has learned a lot from his non-nomination for the World Cup and is now coming into his own in a very different way.”