Netherlands win in Poland, Belgium beat Wales
The September 2022 internationals are underway and the UEFA Nations League returned on Thursday evening.
No side has yet booked their place in the 2023 finals, nor has any nation been relegated
to League B just yet, but there were some big results that impacted the fates of several
countries heading into their last matchday on Sunday.
Here’s a roundup of Thursday’s action.
Nations League A, Group 1
Croatia 2-1 Denmark
Croatia moved to the top of Group 1 with a single game remaining after a late 2-1 win
at home to Denmark.
The hosts took the lead just after halftime when the ball fell kindly to Borna Sosa following a corner
and his caressed strike evaded a host of defenders and found the far corner.
Christian Eriksen continued his fine early season form with a screamer of his own with
under 15 minutes remaining, only for FC Barcelona-linked Lovro Majer to score almost
immediately from the resulting kick-off to give Croatia a win and put them on the brink
of next summer’s finals.
France 2-0 Austria
France head into the final matchday with their fate in their own hands after an energetic
2-0 win against Austria.
Deschamps’ men would have been relegated to League B with a loss but were utterly
dominant against Ralf Rangnick’s side.
After somehow not finding the back of the net in the first half of the game, Kylian Mbappe
broke the deadlock after the break having dribbled through half of the Austria team.
Olivier Giroud headed in Les Bleus’ second soon after to seal a vital three points.
Nations League A, Group 4
Belgium 2-1 Wales
Wales came desperately close to snatching an unlikely point against Belgium but were
condemned to defeat in Brussels and are at serious risk of relegation.
Kevin De Bruyne tortured the Dragons in a testing first half, opening the scoring with a perfectly
placed first-time effort after 11 minutes of the game.
The Manchester City star then teed up Michy Batshuayi for a tap-in just before the interval to give Rob Page’s men a mountain to climb in the second half.
But hope was not lost for Wales as Brennan Johnson weaved his way through the channel and picked out Kieffer Moore with a teasing cross, and the Bournemouth striker pulled one back for the visitors.
Gareth Bale emerged from the bench and nearly headed Wales level not long after before Belgium were awarded a penalty when De Bruyne fell under a challenge from Joe Morrell. However, the referee overturned this after a VAR intervention as the Portsmouth midfielder had clearly won the ball.
Johnson came close to firing in a Wales equalizer as stoppage time loomed, while Roberto Martinez was sent off just before the final whistle.
Belgium sit three points behind the Netherlands, while Wales are the same margin as Poland.
Poland 0-2 Netherlands
The Netherlands have one foot in next summer’s Nations League finals following an impressive 2-0 victory away at Poland.
Louis van Gaal’s men remain unbeaten in Group 4 heading into the final matchday and looked formidable against a strong Poland side.
Cody Gakpo carried his excellent hot streak at club level onto the international stage when he broke the deadlock after 14 minutes in Warsaw, tapping in from Denzel Dumfries’ cross.
The Oranje were the better team for much of the night and grabbed a deserved second on the hour mark, with Steven Bergwijn playing a clever one-two with Vincent Janssen and beating Wojciech Szczesny to make sure of the points.