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Netherlands 1-0 Belgium: Van Dijk books Oranje's Finals spot
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Netherlands players celebrate Virgil van Dijk's goal against Belgium
Netherlands players celebrate Virgil van Dijk's goal against Belgium

The Netherlands booked their place in the Nations League Finals as Virgil van Dijk's second-half header sealed a 1-0 win over Belgium on Sunday.

Victory over Poland on Thursday meant the Oranje only needed to avoid a heavy defeat to their neighbours at the Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam to seal top spot in Group A4.

Belgium never looked like they had the firepower to pull off such a result, with Liverpool defender Van Dijk securing three points for the hosts by scoring in the 73rd minute.

The result meant the Netherlands topped their group with 16 points, with Roberto Martinez's Red Devils six points behind in second.

Belgium looked bright in the early stages, with Eden Hazard blazing over from a promising position and Michy Batshuayi firing at Remko Pasveer after being played in by Kevin De Bruyne.

At the other end, Denzel Dumfries cracked wide from 12 yards after fine work down the left from Vincent Janssen, which was the closest the hosts came in a first half that saw them fail to have an attempt on target.

Dumfries again went close at the start of the second period, while Belgium's Amadou Onana was denied by a smart stop from Pasveer shortly after the hour mark. 

Steven Bergwijn powered a shot straight at Thibaut Courtois as the Netherlands cranked up the pressure, before Van Dijk handed the hosts victory with a close-range header from Cody Gakpo's corner.

Courtois did well to deny Davy Klaassen and Bergwijn in the closing stages, while Belgium substitute Dodi Lukebakio struck the post with a sensational overhead kick with almost the last kick of the game.

What does it mean? Red Devils make life easy for Oranje

Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal was unable to call on Frenkie de Jong, Memphis Depay and Teun Koopmeiners, who were all injured during the 2-0 win over Poland in midweek, but it mattered little as his side sealed their place in next year's mini-tournament without breaking sweat.

Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez, who watched on from the stands following his dismissal against Wales on Thursday, will be concerned his side made it so easy for the hosts, and will be demanding a marked improvement when the World Cup kicks off in under two months.

Van Dijk shines

Van Dijk was a colossus at both ends of the pitch.

In addition to his match-winning goal, he made more clearances than any other player (three) and played more passes (55) than any of his team-mates.

Batshuayi struggles

It was little surprise to see Batshuayi replaced by Charles De Ketelaere at half-time.

The Fenerbahce striker had just one shot during his 45 minutes on the pitch and failed to make a single key pass to a team-mate.

What's next?

Attention turns to the World Cup in Qatar, with the Netherlands starting their campaign against Senegal on November 21 and Belgium taking on Canada two days later.

Tags

BelgiumUEFA Nations League ANetherlands
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