Fri, 22 Sep 2023

THE HAGUE, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- The Netherlands entered the semifinals of the Nations League by beating Belgium 1-0 in the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam on Sunday to top Group 4 of League A.

Without injured key players Frenkie de Jong and Memphis Depay, Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal had to search for an alternative line-up which saw Marten de Roon (Atalanta) and Vincent Janssen (Antwerp) replace the FC Barcelona duo.

This resulted in a tight match against Belgium, who had been beaten by their Dutch neighbors 4-1 in Brussels in June.

Captain Virgil van Dijk headed in a Cody Gakpo corner in the 73rd minute, a few minutes after 38-year-old Dutch goalkeeper Remko Pasveer of Ajax, who debuted last Thursday in a 2-0 win against Poland in Warsaw, made a terrific save from an attempt by Amadou Onana.

The win means the Netherlands end on 16 points from six matches in Group 4 of the highest level of the Nations League, and qualify for the final four next year in the Netherlands.

Belgium finished second in the group with 10 points. For both teams, the match was also their last test before the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which starts on November 20 in Qatar.

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