Weghorst’s late Dutch winner dampens Wales spirits


Rhys Norrington-Davies’ thumping header had briefly seemed to have rescued a draw for Wales

The Netherlands dampened Wales’ World Cup qualification party with a late Nations League victory in Cardiff.

Still riding the wave of celebrations after Sunday’s play-off final win over Ukraine, Rob Page’s much-changed side started brightly as they searched for a first win in the Nations League top tier.

Dutch boss Louis van Gaal named a completely different starting XI to their 4-1 thumping of Belgium last time out, but Teun Koopmeiners’ strike gave them the lead early in the second half.

Rhys Norrington-Davies thought he had earned Wales a point when his injury-time header made it 1-1, but 100 seconds later Burnley’s Wout Weghorst nodded home to silence the Welsh crowd.

Victory for Netherlands moves them top of Group A4 in the Nations League, while Wales remain bottom of the four teams after back-to-back defeats in the competition.

Norrington-Davies impresses for much-changed Wales

Sunday’s World Cup play-off final match against Ukraine was always the priority for Wales going into this extended international break.

The seven changes made by Page highlighted that, with influential figures Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen and Sunday’s goalkeeper hero Wayne Hennessey all left out of the matchday squad, with Gareth Bale coming on as a late substitute.

Despite that, and much like last week’s loss against Poland, Wales again went toe-to-toe against one of the world’s football heavyweights.

Wales’ first real chance came after 13 minutes, the ever-busy Norrington-Davies and Harry Wilson combined well to win a corner and from the resulting cross the Fulham man nodded just wide at the back post.

Centre back Chris Mepham almost provided an unlikely assist when his deep cross was floated perfectly for Norrington-Davies, who rose above Jordan Teze but put his header over the bar.

Wales midfielder Harry Wilson tests Netherlands goalkeeper Mark Flekken with a curling first half free-kick
Wales midfielder Harry Wilson tests Netherlands goalkeeper Mark Flekken with a curling first-half free-kick

Netherlands goalkeeper Mark Flekken was almost left red-faced when he hesitated over a clearance and was charged down by Dan James, but the Leeds winger’s deflected attempt sailed behind for a goal-kick.

Norrington-Davies continued to cause problems and picked up a loose ball outside the Dutch penalty area before drawing a foul in a dangerous position.

Dead-ball specialist Wilson claimed the ball immediately and forced a diving save out of Freiburg stopper Flekken, who pushed the ball safely away.

Koopmeiners turns on Dutch style

After James forced another comfortable save the Dutch got a foothold in the game.

A few half-chances came and went, before a deep run from Koopmeiners was not tracked by the Welsh defence, but Ben Davies – who made countless blocks against Ukraine on Sunday – stretched to make a goal-saving tackle.

Seconds before half-time the Netherlands had the best chance of the opening period, when Cody Gakpo took advantage of a misread defensive header to race clear of Davies and Mepham.

The PSV striker cut back well onto his right foot, but his goal-bound effort was blocked by Mepham and bounced narrowly wide of the left post.

The Netherlands started the second half as they ended the first and opened the scoring five minutes after the restart.

Debutant Jerdy Schouten and Koopmeiners were afforded too much space on the edge of the Wales box and the Atalanta midfielder’s low driving shot beat Adam Davies – who had replaced Danny Ward in the Welsh goal at the break.

Wales responded to going behind well, Rubin Colwill and Matt Smith coming on, but they failed to test Flekken as they did in the first half.

That was until Connor Roberts broke down the Wales right and crossed to the back post, where Norrington-Davies rose highest.

The wing-back’s goal looked to have sealed a draw for Wales and ensure World Cup qualification celebrations continued, but Netherlands had other plans.

Burnley striker Weghorst’s diving header less than two minutes after Wales’ equaliser beat a full-stretch Davies to send the 600-strong contingent of travelling fans back into full voice.

Line-ups

Wales

Formation 5-3-2

  • 12WardSubstituted forDaviesat 45′minutes
  • 14Roberts
  • 5Mepham
  • 6Rodon
  • 4Davies
  • 17Norrington-Davies
  • 3LevittSubstituted forSmithat 67′minutes
  • 16MorrellSubstituted forColwillat 60′minutes
  • 8Wilson
  • 9JohnsonSubstituted forBaleat 77′minutes
  • 20JamesSubstituted forMatondoat 77′minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Gunter
  • 7Smith
  • 10Burns
  • 11Bale
  • 13Colwill
  • 15Ampadu
  • 18Williams
  • 19M Harris
  • 21Davies
  • 22Thomas
  • 23Matondo

Netherlands

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 13Flekken
  • 2TezeBooked at 3mins
  • 6de Vrij
  • 3de LigtSubstituted forMartins Indiat 84′minutes
  • 15Hateboer
  • 20Koopmeiners
  • 18SchoutenSubstituted forde Jongat 67′minutes
  • 16Malacia
  • 12LangSubstituted forTilat 90+1′minutes
  • 9GakpoSubstituted forBergwijnat 67′minutes
  • 19Weghorst

Substitutes

  • 1Cillessen
  • 4Martins Indi
  • 5AkĂ©
  • 7Bergwijn
  • 8Til
  • 10Depay
  • 11Berghuis
  • 14Klaassen
  • 17Blind
  • 21de Jong
  • 22Dumfries
  • 23Scherpen

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