Van Gaal says Oranje were ‘outplayed’ despite beating Belgium in Nations League

Virgil van Dijk applauds his team-mates as the Dutch seal qualification. Photo: ANP/Maurice van Steen
Virgil van Dijk applauds his team-mates as the Dutch seal qualification. Photo: ANP/Maurice van Steen

A header from a corner by captain Virgil van Dijk was enough to secure the Netherlands a workmanlike 1-0 win against Belgium and progress to the knockout stages of the Nations League.

Van Dijk’s goal in the 73rd minute came during a spell of sustained pressure by Oranje against a resilient Belgian defence. ‘It wasn’t a good game, but we won. That’s a good feeling, although we need to play much better,’ the defender said.

Oranje kept a clean sheet for the second match in a row and managed to win without their talisman, Frenkie de Jong, for the first time since he made his international debut four years ago. The Barcelona midfielder was missing through injury, along with first-team regulars Memphis Depay and Teun Koopmeiners.

The match was Louis van Gaal’s last chance to test his players before they begin their World Cup campaign against Senegal in Qatar on November 21.

‘We were outplayed by Belgium, to be honest,’ the coach said. ‘But despite that we managed to keep our discipline when the opposition had the ball and then score from a set piece.’

The Netherlands is hosting the Final Four knockout stages of Nations League A – the semi-finals and finals of the tournament – between June 13 and 18 next year.

The venues have yet to be announced, but Rotterdam and Enschede are the most likely contenders, as the Amsterdam ArenA and Philips Stadium in Eindhoven are already booked for other events.

Croatia will also be participating after they beat Austria 3-1 in Vienna on Sunday, while the other two places will be decided on Monday night when Hungary play Italy and Portugal take on Spain.

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