Netherlands 2 Germany 3: Oranje comeback undone by sucker punch

Memphis Depay and Ronald Koeman during the Netherlands 2-3 defeat to Germany in Amsterdam

The Netherlands suffered an early setback in their bid to qualify for Euro 2020 as they went down 3-2 to Germany in Amsterdam. Oranje looked to have come back from 2-0 down at half-time to salvage a creditable draw, only for winger Nico Schulz to pop up with an 89th-minute winner. The result leaves the Dutch in third place in Group C behind Germany and Northern Ireland, who have taken maximum points from home games against Estonia and Belarus. The Netherlands beat Belarus 4-0 in Thursday night's opening match in Rotterdam. Germany dominated the first half and went ahead when Matthijs de Ligt's slip in the penalty area left Leroy Sané clear in the penalty area to score from close range. It got worse for the Dutch after 34 minutes when Serge Gnabry made it two with a rifling shot into the top corner. Only a point-blank save from Jesper Cillessen from Sané stopped Germany going into the break 3-0 up, while Ryan Babel had the best chance of the half for the home side. The Dutch showed more purpose from the start of the second half, with Memphis Depay causing problems down the left-hand side, and pulled a goal back within two minutes when De Ligt headed in from a corner. Depay added the second himself when he fired in to the bottom left hand corner in a crowded penalty area in 64 minutes. Thereafter Oranje looked more likely to score until Schulz's late sucker punch. Point dropped De Ligt, who scored his first international goal, admitted that Oranje had been second best in the first half. 'In the first half we were maybe a bit anxious about taking Germany on. In the second half we were 2-0 down and had to do something. We showed we're a good team, but sadly it was too late.' Manager Ronald Koeman said that in hindsight he might have been better to settle for the draw rather than press for a late winner. 'I thought we didn't start well, didn't know exactly how Germany would play, and they were very good with three players and lots of movement up front,' he said. 'We weren't good and didn't keep the ball in the first half. But in the second half I was proud of the fact that we didn't let our heads go down, we were 2-0 down and the second half was brilliant. But we should have had a point. 'The only thing we discussed towards the end of the game was whether to bring on [Nathan] Aké for [Quincy] Promes to get the point. Maybe I should have done that.' Oranje's next qualifying match is the return fixture in Germany on September 6.    More >

Verstappen plays down F1 title hopes

Max Verstappen played down his chances of winning the Formula One title this year despite finishing a promising third in the season's opening Grand Prix in Australia. The 21-year-old, who finished fourth in last year's standings, steered his Red Bull to a podium finish behind the Mercedes pairing of Valtteri Bottas and world champion Lewis Hamilton. Team adviser Helmut Marko was full of praise for Verstappen, describing his manoeuvre to overtake Sebastian Vettel on Melbourne's tight street circuit as 'out of this world', and declared: 'Max can take the title with this set-up'. However, the Dutchman refused to be drawn into discussions about the drivers' championship despite recording his best start to a Formula One season. 'Time will tell if we can races this year with this car,' he said. Marko said the team's target for the season was to win five races and said the next round in Bahrain offered better prospects for the Red Bull car. Verstappen's new team-mate, Frenchman Pierre Gasly, finished 11th in Melbourne.  More >

PSV open up five-point lead in Eredivisie

PSV Eindhoven opened up a five-point gap at the top of the Eredivisie on Sunday to claim the initiative ahead of their title showdown with Ajax in Amsterdam. The league leaders narrowly overcame a spirited VVV side 1-0 in Venlo, but it took until the 86th minute for Hirving Lozano to break the deadlock with a mazy run and clipped shot. Ajax, meanwhile, went down by the same scoreline in Alkmaar, with Guus Til netting the decisive strike for AZ in the 56th minute from close range following a corner. PSV can now take a decisive step towards the title when the two teams meet in the ArenA on March 31, after the international break. If they win they will be eight points clear with just seven games left to play, while the home side will be under pressure to cut the deficit to two points. 'We keep fighting to the end and we have the quality to do it,' said Van Bommel after watching his team bag another late victory. 'It was a very difficult game, but we played patiently, sent on a couple of substitutes to get a better grip on the game and in the end we got the goal.' AZ's victory lifted them to level on points with third-placed Feyenoord following the Rotterdammers' 3-2 home defeat to Willem II on Saturday. Manager John van den Brom was delighted to beat one of the top three: 'Hopefully that'll stop the moaning. It was very frustrating. We've shown we can beat Ajax.' 'It was very frustrating,' said Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who is joining Barcelona in the summer. 'We didn't deserve to win today. AZ were stronger. I hope I'm not going to leave Ajax without a medal, but the title is still a real option.' Feyenoord stunned Feyenoord stay ahead of AZ on goals scored after Alexander Isak's 69th-minute goal allowed Willem II to take the points back to Tilburg. Feyenoord had led twice in De Kuip, the first time through Steven Berghuis's stunning strike. At the bottom of the table De Graafschap gave their survival chances a boost with a 3-0 win at Heerenveen. The points lifted them into 16th place above Emmen, who lost 3-1 on Friday night at home to Fortuna Sittard. Both clubs are just a point behind Excelsior, who lost 2-0 at home to PEC Zwolle thanks to goals in the last 10 minutes from Kingsley Ehizibue and Younes Namil. Groningen continued their good form in the second half of the season, winning their fifth straight home game by beating ADO Den Haag 1-0 to rise to eighth place and keep their opponents in the relegation dogfight. Heracles were the only other home winners against 10-man Vitesse, while NAC are now eight points adrift at the foot of the table after slumping 4-0 at home to Dick Advocaat's Utrecht. Results Friday Emmen 1-3 Fortuna Sittard Saturday Feyenoord 2-3 WIllem II Tilburg Heerenveen 0-3 De Graafschap Heracles Almelo 3-2 VItesse Arnhem NAC 0-4 FC Utrecht Sunday AZ Alkmaar 1-0 Ajax Excelsior 0-2 PEC Zwolle Groningen 1-0 ADO Den Haag VVV Venlo 0-1 PSV Eindhoven  More >

Easy win keeps Ajax five points behind PSV

Ajax showed no signs of a Champions League hangover as they cruised to a 4-0 win at home to Fortuna Sittard. Dusan Tadic opened the scoring after just three minutes, pouncing on some sloppy defending, and had the last word following strikes either side of half-time by David Neres. Coach Erik ten Hag told NOS his team had no trouble returning to the bread and butter of Eredivisie duty following their heroics in Madrid: 'It could be a very good season and that's what we're aiming for. It's going well and we're making progress, but we still have to win the trophies.' The Amsterdammers have the chance to close the gap on league leaders PSV to two points when they play their postponed home game against PEC Zwolle on Wednesday evening. PSV laboured to a 2-0 win over bottom club NAC Breda on Saturday, though it took until the 71st minute for substitute Donyell Malen to add to Luuk de Jong's early goal. The top two meet on March 31 in a match that will have a big say in the destination of the title. Feyenoord stay in third place after a 1-1 draw at Vitesse Arnhem, but AZ Alkmaar missed the chance to close the gap as they played out a goalless draw in Zwolle, whose coach Jaap Stam will move to De Kuip at the end of the season. A snow shower in Emmen prompted the introduction of the orange ball and it proved a lucky omen for the home side, who came from behind to claim a point against Heracles with Sven Braken's header five minutes from time. Emmen remain a point behind Zwolle, Fortuna and Excelsior, after the latter were edged out 1-0 by VVV Venlo, who had lost their three previous league games. Heerenveen moved into the top half of the table as they won 3-2 at ADO Den Haag, with the pairing of Michel Vlap and Sam Lammers once again providing the cutting edge. Willem II prevailed by the same scoreline against De Graafschap to move closer to safety and leave the Superboeren four points short of the coveted 15th place. Friday night's match saw Utrecht and Groningen fail to find the net to leave Dick Advocaat's side still searching for their first home win of 2019. Results Friday Utrecht 0-0 Groningen Saturday ADO Den Haag 2-3 Heerenveen PSV Eindhoven 2-0 NAC Breda VVV Venlo 1-0 Excelsior Willem II Tilburg 3-2 De Graafschap Sunday Ajax 4-0 Fortuna Sittard Emmen 1-1 Heracles Almelo PEC Zwolle 0-0 AZ Alkmaar Vitesse Arnhem 1-1 Feyenoord  More >

Ajax Real win boosts NL on Uefa list

Ajax's surprise win over Real Madrid in the Champions League round of 16 earlier this week have boosted Dutch chances of a direct ticket into the competition next season. That victory, plus Red Bull Salzburg's loss to Napoli, means the Netherlands is now back in 11th place on the all important Uefa coefficient list, just ahead of Austria. If the Netherlands can hang on to 11th place, the winners of the Eredivisie in the 2019/2020 season will qualify directly for the Champions League. Last year title holders PSV had to go through several qualification rounds to move into the regular competition. If Salzburg lose in front of their home crowd in the second leg next week, next season's Eredivisie winner will be assured of a direct place. Ajax's Real Madrid win put the Amsterdammers into the quarter finals of the Champions League for the first time since 2003.  More >

Jaap Stam set for Feyenoord head coach job

Jaap Stam, the former Dutch international and current manager of PEC Zwolle, is taking over the helm at Rotterdam club Feyenoord next season, the Telegraaf said on Wednesday. Stam, 46, replaces Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who said in January he would not renew his contract. Van Bronckhorst took the Rotterdammers to their first league title in 18 years in 2017. Stam, who has a contract until 2020 with PEC, played for several European clubs including PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United, Lazio, Milan and Ajax before retiring in 2007 and moving into management.  More >