UEFA Nations League: 3 reasons why England lost to the Netherlands
After showing so much promise in defeating Spain and Croatia to qualify for the UEFA Nations League finals back in autumn, tonight was another tale of frustration for England, as the Three Lions crashed to a 3-1 defeat to the Netherlands following extra-time.
England took the lead in the first half through a Marcus Rashford penalty after Matthijs de Ligt fouled the Manchester United man, but the Ajax defender made amends in the second half by heading an equaliser. Gareth Southgate’s men thought they’d won the game late on through Jesse Lingard, but a VAR check chalked off the goal and sent the game into extra-time.
Despite England pushing for a winning goal, two major defensive mistakes allowed the Netherlands to steal two goals – one a Kyle Walker own goal and one through Quincy Promes – and England fans were once again left wondering what might have been.
Here are 3 reasons why England lost to the Netherlands.
#1 England committed defensive suicide
One of the hallmarks of Gareth Southgate’s reign as England boss has been a move away from the old-school long ball game that the Three Lions were once known for and towards a style of play more linked to sides like Barcelona, relying heavily on playing out from the back. But while this style is excellent when it works, tonight we saw the ugly side of it as England made some horrendous defensive errors and essentially handed the Netherlands a victory on a silver platter.
Early on there were worrying signs, as Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire and John Stones were all guilty of dallying on the ball instead of simply clearing their lines, but nobody could’ve predicted the self-destruction that came in extra-time.
Stones was found on the edge of his own box by Maguire and had plenty of time to roll the ball back to Jordan Pickford, but instead he decided to attempt to dribble, and lost out to Memphis Depay. Pickford did well to save Depay’s shot, but Quincy Promes quickly pounced on the loose ball and his shot went in off Walker.
The third Dutch goal came from equally suicidal defending, as Stones played Ross Barkley into trouble and the Chelsea man’s pass to Pickford went horribly awry, allowing Depay to steal the ball and square it to Promes for the killer blow.
It’s all well and good encouraging defenders to play from the back – but Southgate must surely drill his players in the art of clearing their lines rather than playing themselves into danger as they did here.