Dutch draw with Northern Ireland to qualify for Euro 2020


Northern Ireland rued a missed penalty as they drew 0-0 at Windsor Park in Belfast with the Netherlands.

The draw now means they have to settle for a play-off place in March next year to qualify for Euro 2020.

Northern Ireland had a very tough task to beat the Netherlands at home and Germany away in their final two qualifying matches to achieve automatic qualification.

Northern Ireland manager Micheal O’Neill had just agreed to take over as manager of Championship side Stoke City and the team and the supporters were keen to mark what could be potentially be his final home game of an eight-year reign with a notable victory.

And they gave it a real go and perhaps could have completed the first part of “mission impossible” if they had converted the penalty chance they had in the first half against the Dutch.

Northern Ireland came out of the blocks quickly, creating a series of good goalscoring chances in the early minutes as McNair and Whyte caused havoc on the right flank.

Dutch keeper Jasper Cillessen took too long on the ball and Corry Evans chased him down and blocked his clearance, but the ball would just not come down in time to put the ball into the empty net. Magennis glanced a header wide from one of a series of dangerous McNair crosses, while George Seville had a shot blocked.

Then Northern Ireland were given a great chance to get their noses in front. Joel Veltman was adjudged to have handled as Seville had an effort on goal and a penalty was awarded. The Dutch team surrounded the referee to argue about the decision for several minutes and the goalkeeper then tried to waste even more time. The extended delay seemed to get to Northern Ireland’s captain Steven Davis who blasted his penalty over the bar.

Photo: Stephen Gormley (Red Eye Photo Agency)

After weathering the early Northern Ireland storm, Steven Berghuis hit the woodwork for The Netherlands and the hard working Ryan Babel and Quincy Promes both sent curling efforts just wide of the target.

The game ended scoreless, much to the delight of the Dutch team and their travelling support. They are back in the big time where they belong having missed out on qualification for the previous two major tournaments (World Cup in Russia in 2018 and Euro 2016 in France). However they still appear to lack a bit of magic up front when it really matters, but they are hard to beat and seem to be a real team again which maybe is the real magic about the men in orange for next summer.

It was always going to be a hard group for Northern Ireland to qualify from and they have been very competitive over the whole campaign, just not taking their chances at the big moments in the big games against The Netherlands and Germany. They will go into the play offs in good spirits in March and few would be surprised to see them qualify for the main party in the summer.


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