Football

Holland praised by Koeman after crushing France

Dutch coach believes the Oranje have risen from their slump with win over the world champions

NATIONS LEAGUE A, GP 1
HOLLAND FRANCE
2 0
(Georginio Wijnaldum 44, Memphis Depay 90+6)  

Holland have put behind them the poor form that saw them miss out on the last two major tournaments and even coach Ronald Koeman is pleasantly surprised by their victory over world champions France in a Nations League A match on Saturday morning (Singapore time).

“We’ve shown that we have broken the slump, but I did not expect that we would be so much better throughout the 90 minutes,” said a delighted Ronald Koeman, after a 2-0 win in Rotterdam inflicted a first defeat on the French since they won the World Cup in Russia.

The result also means Germany have been relegated to Nations League B, while Holland need just a draw in Gelsenkirchen against the Germans on Monday to win the group, usurping the last two World Cup winners to advance to next June’s Nations League Finals.

“I also did not expect that this team would be as far in their reading of a match. We’ve shown on such a night that we’ve made enormous steps. From the beginning to the end, we played really well,” Koeman said.

Georginio Wijnaldum scored just before half-time and Memphis Depay converted a late penalty as the Dutch dominated against the world champions, looking much changed from the side that missed out on the 2016 European Championship and this year's World Cup in Russia.

Holland beat Germany 3-0 last month in the Nations League to signal their potential but Koeman, appointed coach in February, then tried to temper the euphoria.

But he was fulsome in his praise after the latest victory.

“In the previous matches, there were moments where we could have been a lot better. But to be better than we were against France will be very difficult.

“It has given the team a lot of self-confidence. France did not come to play and try and make a decent game of it. It made it difficult to stay patient and to pick out moments. We had many chances for a second goal but their keeper (Hugo Lloris) was tremendous, otherwise the final score could have been 3-0 or 4-0.”

Depay said that the young team were on the right track.

“I’m enjoying how the team are developing and if, in games like this, we are able to get a result, then we are on the right path.”

The closest Deschamps’ men came to scoring was a weak 10th-minute header from Antoine Griezmann, who was otherwise anonymous alongside the equally invisible Kylian Mbappe.

“There was one team out there with a lot of desire and we didn’t have enough,” said Deschamps.

“There was a clear gulf between the sides and they deserved the win... We weren’t at the races and didn’t show enough.” – REUTERS, AFP

FrancehollandRonald KoemanNations League