Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 24 September 2020

Nations League: Steve Bergwijn scores Dutch winner, Erling Haaland nets first goal for Norway

Italy's 11-match winning run ends with 1-1 draw against Bosnia

Steven Bergwijn, left, scored his first goal for the Netherlands in their 1-0 win over Poland at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam. EPA
Steven Bergwijn, left, scored his first goal for the Netherlands in their 1-0 win over Poland at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam. EPA

The Netherlands began the post-Ronald Koeman era by keeping up their former coach's approach to the game and beating Poland 1-0 in their Nations League opener on Friday.

The performance had all the hallmarks of their confident showings of the last two years under Koeman, who sparked a revival after they missed out on the European Championship in 2016 and the World Cup in Russia.

After Koeman quit to take up his "dream job" with Barcelona last month, his assistant Dwight Lodeweges took over as interim coach and the Dutch team hardly missed a beat.

Even Koeman was expressing his delight at the end.

“Ronald Koeman congratulated me by text. He thought we had a really good second half. So, thank you Ronald,” Lodeweges told Dutch television after the game, won courtesy of Steve Bergwijn's first goal for the Oranje.

The team plays again in Amsterdam against Italy on Monday after which Dutch football association (KNVB) will begin the process of selecting a new coach, though KNVB sources have said there would be no rush to name a replacement.

Louis van Gaal, 69, has not ruled out the possibility of a third stint at the helm, though captain Virgil van Dijk spoke highly of Lodeweges, who is not considered a strong candidate.

"He has the respect of the players and does an excellent job. He does what he did before," Van Dijk said after Friday’s victory. "It is pleasant working with him and everyone here around the team knows that."

For the interim coach it was no prefect debut, even though he is the first new Dutch coach since Frank Rijkaard in 1998 to win his first match.

“We worked on things in the week that we wanted to improve, and we didn’t achieve that in the first half. We fixed it in phases in the second half.

“But we were last together nine months ago and so in the end I’m most satisfied.”

Also in League A Group 1, Italy extended their two-year unbeaten run but a run of 11 straight wins came to an end in in Florence.

Edin Dzeko put the visitors in front in the country where he plays his club football for Roma before Stefano Sensi levelled 10 minutes later.

"We're disappointed not to win, but there was no sharpness," said Italy boss Roberto Mancini. "Our winning streak had to end sooner or later, and we're glad it came with a draw and not a defeat."

Jan Boril of Czech Republic in action against Slovakia. EPA
Jan Boril of Czech Republic in action against Slovakia. EPA

Czechs game against Scotland postponed

The Czech Republic football association have postponed their Nations League clash against Scotland, due to take place on Monday, due to coronavirus concerns.

West Ham United midfielder Tomas Soucek and Roma's Patrik Schick missed Friday's 3-1 win over Slovakia after being forced to self-isolate after coming into contact with a staff member of the Czech team who tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this week.

"The national team will not play against Scotland on Monday due to representatives decision and the current situation with the Covid-19," said the English Twitter account of the Czech national team.

"The national team ends current preparations with the immediate effect straight after the win against Slovakia."

In a further statement, the Czech federation added: "There is great concern that the virus could spread further."

There was no immediate comment from the Scottish FA after Scotland's 1-1 draw against Israel at Hampden on Friday.

Ryan Christie's penalty late in the first-half masked a poor performance from Steve Clarke's side, who were pegged back 17 minutes from time when Eran Zahavi drilled high into the far corner.

Clarke handed Lyndon Dykes a debut up front, while he changed to three at the back to try and fit left-backs Kieran Tierney of Arsenal and Liverpool's Andy Robertson into the same team.

"I think we should be doing better," said Dykes. "Looking at the squad, we've got world class [players]. We need a bit of belief, a bit of confidence."

Norway's Erling Braut Haaland celebrates scoring against Austria. EPA
Norway's Erling Braut Haaland celebrates scoring against Austria. EPA

Northern Ireland salvage point, Haaland on target

Gavin Whyte's goal four minutes from time salvaged a 1-1 draw for Northern Ireland in Romania despite being down to 10 men for over 50 minutes after Josh Magennis's first half red card.

Erling Haaland's first international goal for Norway was not enough as the hosts lost 2-1 to Austria in Oslo.

Michael Gregoritsch and Marcel Sabitzer's penalty put the visitors 2-0 in front before the Borussia Dortmund striker's deft finish opened his international account.

In League C, Kazakhstan beat Lithuania 2-0, while Albania were 2-0 victors in Belarus.

Updated: September 5, 2020 12:59 PM

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