UEFA Nations League: Ronald Koeman praises Netherlands squad for making 'enormous steps' forward after difficult period
Georginio Wijnaldum scored just before halftime and Memphis Depay converted a penalty as the Dutch dominated against the world champions, to Koeman's delight.
Rotterdam: The Netherlands 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 Friday’s victory over world champions France.
“We’ve have shown we have broken the slump but I did not expect that we would be so much better through 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 means the Netherlands can win the group if they draw in Gelsenkirchen against Germany on Monday, 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 halftime 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 the last World Cup in Russia.
The Netherlands 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," he added.
Earlier Villarreal, fifth, beat mid-table Girona 1-0 thanks to Dani Parejo's 100th minute penalty.
Juventus were rocked on Friday by the Italian Football Federation's decision to dock them 15 points after ruling they had managed capital gains from transfers to artificially benefit their accounts.
Gleison Bremer's second goal of the season won a tight contest in Turin and set up a two-legged semi-final against Juve's biggest rivals Inter.