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Netherlands 1-0 Poland: 5 talking points as Steven Bergwijn's strike gives the Oranje a win | UEFA Nations League 2020-21

The Netherlands saw off Poland in a cagey affair on Friday night
The Netherlands saw off Poland in a cagey affair on Friday night
Sachin Bhat

The Netherlands launched a fresh bid at the UEFA Nations League trophy with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Poland in Group A encounter.

Steven Bergwijn scored the winner in the 61st minute as the runners-up of the inaugural edition secured all three points to start the new campaign on a high.

The Oranje were the more dominant side, keeping the ball for long spells and making efforts to create, whereas the visitors were toothless without their star man Robert Lewandowski.

Despite having several glamorous stars in both camps, the fixture failed to live up to its pre-match billing as goal-mouth action was very limited.

Here are the major talking points from the Amsterdam Arena:

#1 Netherlands dominate possession; Poland fail to break forward

Despite having more possession, the Netherlands struggled to open up Poland
Despite having more possession, the Netherlands struggled to open up Poland

The slender margin of victory might suggest this was a neck-to-neck contest but the reality couldn't be further away from that. The hosts were dominant throughout, keeping a lion's share of possession and hemming Poland in with high-press.

Numbers show the Netherlands had 65% of the ball on the night and yet, they could muster just four shots on target. The problem was their inability to carve out clear-cut opportunities as they ran out of ideas in the final third.

Poland, on the other hand, were set up to hit them on the break, though the desperate lack of urgency on their part was shocking. Whenever the visitors won the ball, the passing was sloppy while the counter-attacks were incoherent.

After Krzysztof Piatek's effort around the half-hour mark, Poland didn't test the Netherlands again, almost giving up in the second stanza. Jerzy Brzęczek would also be disappointed to see that his side didn't make any conscientious effort in piling up the pressure on the Dutch off the ball too.

#2 Goalkeepers rise to the occasion

Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and Netherlands shot-stopper Jasper Cillessen both came good on Friday night
Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and Netherlands shot-stopper Jasper Cillessen both came good on Friday night

While there was no goal-mouth action even as chances were at a premium, the two goalkeepers on the night were called into question in some instances, and both stepped up to the plate each time.

This had to be one of the easiest days at the office for Jasper Cillessen, who passed off as a pedestrian last night. However, that was not before he denied Piatek with a wonderful save.

The Valencia custodian kept out a curling effort from the striker by diving the right way and showing an iron grip to stop it. And that's it, he wasn't called into question again.

At the other end, Wojciech Szczesny had to be on his toes as the Netherlands threw the kitchen sink, even though he was barely tested in the opening half. After keeping out Virgil Van Dijk's probing header, the Juventus custodian pulled off some good saves after the interval.

He smothered Depay's effort by charging out of his line before holding on to Quincy Promes' shot from range. However, in between these two moments came Steven Bergwin's winning goal, which Szczesny could nothing about. However, that should take nothing away from the encouraging performance he turned in.

#3 Bergwijn gets off the mark for Netherlands

Steven Bergwijn's stature continues to grow even within the Netherlands set-up
Steven Bergwijn's stature continues to grow even within the Netherlands set-up

This has been a roller-coaster year for Steven Bergwijn. After joining Tottenham Hotspur in January, he scored on his Premier League debut against Manchester City, before sustaining an ankle injury that supposedly ruled him out for the rest of the season.

However, the league's suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic allowed him to recover and score on his first game back against Manchester United. Now, he's scored on his first game back into the international side too, which also marks his debut goal for the Netherlands.

After several close calls, the hosts finally broke the deadlock when Frenkie de Jong released Hans Hateboer with a looping cross down the right, and the Atalanta full-back then headed into the path of Bergwijn, who then comfortably slotted the ball into an empty net.

That may be the first of many goals Bergwijn will score for the Netherlands, but he won't score something easier than that.

#4 Depay, the Dutch MVP

Memphis Depay was at the heart of the Netherlands' proceedings
Memphis Depay was at the heart of the Netherlands' proceedings

Memphis Depay has resurrected his career after moving to France, finding his feet again with Olympique Lyonnais after his nightmarish time at Manchester United.

The upturn of fortunes has also helped the striker grow in importance for his international side, and last night's performance showed he's the MVP.

Depay was the vital cog which kept the attacking vanguard ticking, constantly trying to win the ball back, running between the lines, laying crosses and also attempting to score.

He was the single biggest threat coming from the Oranje, mustering six shots at goal while his link-up play with Promes and Bergwijn was excellent. The only thing that was missing from his all-round play was a goal.

#2 Piatek fails to take his chance

The former AC Milan forward had a stinker against the Netherlands
The former AC Milan forward had a stinker against the Netherlands

Poland's first-choice striker Robert Lewandowski was missing in action as the Bayern Munich star was given an extended break for his participation in the club's Champions League victory last month.

This opened up an opportunity for Krzysztof Piatek to stake a claim as he got a rare start upfront, but came a cropper instead.

The Hertha Berlin centre-forward was devoid of service for most of the night and besides that effort in the 32nd minute, his contributions in the match were few and far between.

Luckily for him, his attacking colleague won't be around next week for the Bosnia game either, so he will have another crack at making an impression.

Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh

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