The Netherlands held Belgium to a 1-1 draw at the Amsterdam Arena, after Yannick Carrasco’s late strike cancelled out Davy Klaassen’s first half penalty.
After a more than lacklustre opening half, the hosts were awarded a penalty seven minutes before halftime, when Jan Vertonghen gifted the hosts a penalty with a silly foul on Jeremain Lens. Klaassen stepped up, and tucked the spot kick past Simon Mignolet coolly.
The second half showed more signs of life than the first, however chances were still limited. Moments after Laurent Ciman’s header was ruled off for offside, Carrasco fired Belgium back on level terms with a deflected strike from 25-yards out.
Eden Hazard could had won the match with two minutes to go, however the Belgium captain on the night had his well-worked effort brilliantly saved by Maarten Stekelenburg with the final chance of the match.
Injuries on top of injuries
Belgium were forced into change before the players even stepped out onto the pitch, as the Red Devils captain Vincent Kompany was withdrawn from the starting XI, and replaced by Watford centre back Christian Kabasele.
The visitors had a scare 11 minutes in when a poor header from Ciman back to Mignolet almost resulted in Vincent Janssen slipping from behind the Montreal Impact defender, and tucking the ball past Mignolet, but the out of form Tottenham striker was intercepted by Ciman at the last minute, who cleared the danger behind for a corner.
The Dutch were forced into an early change a quarter of an hour in, when Stijin Schaars was replaced by Jordy Clasie for what looked to be a suspected groin injury the 32-year-old midfielder picked up in the opening stages of the match.
Belgium played fluidly for the majority of the first, using the creative powers of Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard to exploit a Holland defence that have not gelled yet.
The injuries also piled on for the hosts, as this time Janssen waddled off the pitch with concussion after receiving an elbow from Mignolet earlier in the half took its toll on the former AZ striker.
Dries Mertens had the first real effort of the half, after an expertly worked move from the Red Devils saw De Bruyne whip in a dangerous ball to the Napoli playmaker, however Mertens’ glancing header fired high and over the bar.
Slow and steady wins the race
The Netherlands were playing with a rushed and distasteful style of football that fans of the Oranje are unfamiliar with, but the hosts were still able to challenge Belgium’s defence, and with eight minutes to go from halftime, Lens was shoved by Vertonghen inside the penalty area.
Klaassen stepped up to take the stop kick, and the 23-year-old midfielder rifled the ball into the roof of the net, to give the hosts a more than undeserved lead going into halftime.
Much of the same
The second half started to the same tedious football that had been on show in the first half. Belgium steadily controlled the game, however Roberto Martinez’s side failed to turn their possession into chances, opting to play the ball around the midfield, and hoping to find the killer pass to split the Holland defence in two.
The hosts should had extended their lead to 2-0, when Joshua Brenet went on a mesmerising run through the Belgium defence, jinking and ducking is way through the waves of Red Devil players, however when faced with Mignolet on the edge of the penalty box, the left back fired agonising close at the far post, inches away from a fantastic goal.
The Red Devils wake up
Belgium were keen to find an equaliser, and they almost had it when the brother of Eden Hazard, Thorgan Hazard, played a great cross across the face of goal, skimming towards the feet of Romelu Lukaku, but even with the goal gapping and the keeper nowhere to be seen, the Everton striker blasted the ball high into the crowd from six yards out.
Ciman had the ball in the back of the net after the MLS defender headed in Eden Hazard’s fantastic snap free-kick, but the former Standard Liege centre back was flagged off for offside. However moments late, Belgium had scored a legible goal that counted.
Carrasco found himself surrounded by Dutch defenders after Thorgan Hazard had picked out the Atletico Madrid winger, and from 25-yards out, the former Monaco attacker caught the defence off guard with a shot out of nowhere.
The ball took a hefty deflection of Joel Veltman’s back, and the looping ball caught the keeper by surprise, flying over Maarten Stekelenburg’s head, and into the back of the net to level the game up.
The visitors could have won the game with three minutes to go when Eden Hazard played a one-two with his former Chelsea teammate Lukaku to wiggle his way into the penalty area, but the Blues’ number 10 curling effort was brilliantly saved by Stekelenburg.