ROTTERDAM (Reuters) – Georginio Wijnaldum blasted home from close range and Memphis Depay converted a last-gasp penalty to earn the Netherlands a 2-0 win over world champions France on Friday and condemn Germany to relegation from their Nations League group.
Wijnaldum followed up after France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris made a fine stop from point-blank range just before halftime and Depay sealed the victory to give the Dutch a chance to win the group when they meet Germany in Gelsenkirchen on Monday.
A draw would be enough to see Ronald Koeman’s team advance to meet other group winners next June.
Lloris stood between the Netherlands and a bigger winning margin with several key saves as he replicated his form from the World Cup but the Dutch got a second goal with the last kick of the match from Depay’s penalty.
France, despite losing their first game since winning the World Cup, remained top of the Group One standings but have completed their campaign.
Few would have given the Dutch — who have missed out on the last two major tournaments — any chance when they were paired with the last two World Cup winners in the same group for the new tournament.
But they looked anything but overawed at the Feyenoord Stadium against a French side who only needed a draw to win the group.
The hosts served early notice of their intent, forcing Lloris into a save after 90 seconds as Depay set up a chance with a run from the right-hand side but Wijnaldum struck the ball straight at the goalkeeper.
The goal came after a defensive slip by France’s Steven Nzonzi, whose attempted headed clearance set up Ryan Babel, who was denied by Lloris before Wijnaldum swept the rebound home.
Lloris made a double stop to deny marauding right back Denzel Dumfries just after the hour mark as the Dutch, with a three-man attack, continued to dominate against a listless looking French side.
Ten minutes later Depay struck a low free kick that Lloris turned around the post.
With four minutes of added time already up, Frenkie de Jong was pushed in the French penalty area and Depay dispatched the spot-kick.