Virgil pens Dutch drama

NETHERLAND’S defender Virgil van Dijk celebrates scoring the 2-2 during the UEFA Nations League football match Germany vs the Netherlands in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. AFP

GELSENKITCHEN, Germany — Virgil van Dijk sent Netherlands into the Nations League semi-finals after completing a dramatic comeback from two goals down with a 91st-minute equalizer to snatch a 2-2 draw with Germany on Monday.

The Dutch advanced to the tough three-team Group A1 at the expense of world champion France after scoring twice in the final six minutes as Germany was punished for not being clinical enough in the second half.

Liverpool defender Van Dijk fired home to complete the Dutch fight back after Quincy Promes pulled one back on 85 minutes following Timo Werner and Leroy Sane’s first-half goals for Germany.

“It was very difficult for us. The Germans were sharper and faster in the first half,” admitted Dutch coach Ronald Koeman.

“We fought to come back in the second half and pressed.”

“They had their chances to finish it off, but the fight and belief we showed was enough for the point.”

The draw was enough to send the Dutch into the Nations League knockout stages as Group 1 winners, with France second, while bottom side Germany was already relegated to the ‘B’ league ahead of Monday’s clash.

Koeman’s side showed plenty of heart against the Germans, who were 2-0 up after just 20 minutes.

“I’m certainly disappointed with the result, but over the whole season I’ve seen more positives than negative,” said Germany head coach Joachim Loew.

“We were punished and that’s bitter.

“We played well for much of the game, but we have to learn how to close things down at 2-0 up.”

Thomas Mueller reached the milestone of 100 Germany appearances as a second-half replacement, but Van Dijk dampened any celebrations for the hosts.

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