Monday 23 September, 2019

Netherlands beat England 3-1 to reach Nations League final

Netherlands' Memphis Depay smiles when England's Kyle Walker, left, scored an own goal during their UEFA Nations League semifinal football match at the D. Afonso Henriques stadium in Guimaraes, Portugal, Thursday, June 6, 2019.

Netherlands' Memphis Depay smiles when England's Kyle Walker, left, scored an own goal during their UEFA Nations League semifinal football match at the D. Afonso Henriques stadium in Guimaraes, Portugal, Thursday, June 6, 2019.

 Another semifinal loss, another missed chance for England to end their title drought.

The Netherlands took advantage of two sloppy defensive mistakes by England in extra time to earn a 3-1 win in the semifinals of the Nations League on Thursday, extending England's run of more than five decades without a trophy.

An own goal by Kyle Walker gave the Dutch the lead after John Stones gave the ball away in the first half of extra time, and Ross Barkley then misplayed a back pass to gift the Netherlands a third goal in the 114th minute.

"Throughout the game we made too many mistakes in our third of the pitch," England coach Gareth Southgate said. "Partly that was a consequence of their pressure but partly that was errors by us. The last two goals were really difficult errors to account for."

The Dutch will play the final of UEFA's newest competition against host Portugal in Porto on Sunday when they will try to lift their first trophy since the 1988 European Championship.

The Netherlands had failed to qualify for both the 2016 European Championship and the 2018 World Cup.

England, which were seeking their first title since the 1966 World Cup, will play Switzerland in the third-place game in Guimaraes, also on Sunday.

England haven't celebrated a title since that World Cup at home, and they have lost the last four competitive semifinals they played in, including in the World Cup last year, at the 1996 European Championship and in the 1990 World Cup.

"It was tough to take in the end because you get to another semifinal and it should be a positive, and of course you leave even more deflated," Southgate said. "But I have to look at the bigger picture and what these players have given me."

England arrived for the Nations League as one of the favorites after a fourth-place finish at the World Cup and a series of good results since then, including wins over Spain and World Cup runner-up Croatia.

The Netherlands made it to the Final Four by eliminating the last two World Cup winners — France and Germany.

"(This win) is a sign we're growing stronger and stronger," said coach Ronald Koeman, who was still playing when the Dutch won the Euros in 1988. "This win will help us improve even more. We don't stop after tonight."

England took the lead in the first half through a penalty by Marcus Rashford after he was brought down by center back Matthijs de Ligt, but the Dutch defender made amends by heading in the equalizer in the 73rd.

England thought it had scored a winner in the 83rd but a video review determined that Jesse Lingard was just offside before he scored from inside the area.

The Netherlands went ahead in the seventh minute of extra time after Stones gave the ball away to Memphis Depay inside his own area. The Dutch forward's shot was stopped by a great save by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, but on the rebound Quincy Promes got to the ball first and his strike deflected off Walker and into the net.

Promes added the third goal after another defensive blunder by England, this time by Barkley, whose short pass went straight to an opponent inside the area.

Southgate didn't start any of the players who last week were in the Champions League final in Madrid, including Liverpool's Jordan Henderson and Tottenham's Harry Kane.

Koeman used Liverpool duo Virgil van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum from the start.

Kane entered the match at halftime to replace Rashford, who hobbled after getting injured near the end of the first half.

UEFA created the Nations League this season to give national teams more meaningful games and reduce the number of friendlies. Despite some criticism at first, especially by the clubs, the competition produced some exciting games and gave more nations the chance of playing in competitive environments.

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