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Netherlands to meet Portugal in Nations League final


Guimaraes (Portugal) June 7: Netherlands took another step in their resurgence as a soccer power with a 3-1 victory over England in the second Nations League semifinal.

Netherlands, who failed to qualify for the 2016 Euro and the 2018 World Cup, on Thursday showed the potential of their new generation of talent at Dom Afonso Henriques Stadium in Guimaraes, reports Efe news. 

Led by a core of players who already showed their potential by helping Ajax secure a berth in the Champions League semifinals, the Oranje rallied from a 1-0 deficit at halftime and capitalised on a pair of shocking defensive miscues by the Three Lions in extra time.

England started stronger and opened the scoring just after the half-hour mark when Marcus Rashford found a hole in the Dutch squad's defence and was brought down in the area by 19-year-old Ajax star defender Matthijs de Ligt.

Rashford then converted from the spot himself to give England a 1-0 lead.

Both teams then had golden opportunities to score before the intermission, with Dutch defender Denzel Dumfries breaking up a new scoring opportunity for Rashford with an outstanding sliding tackle in the 37th minute and De Ligt botching a header from close range with the clock winding down.

After the intermission, England's Jadon Sancho squandered an opportunity on a close-range header in the 54th minute when he sent the ball straight at goalkeeper Jasper Cillesson.

That proved to be a costly miss, with the Netherlands subsequently taking control of the contest after another young Ajax player, 22-year-old Donny van de Beek, and Sevilla forward Quincy Promes came on as substitutes.

That superiority was soon reflected on the scoreboard when De Lijt made up for his earlier mistake by rising up on a corner kick by Memphis Depay and heading the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal past net minder Jordan Pickford in the 73rd minute.

End-to-end action then ensued, with Van de Beek squandering a chance by sailing a shot over the crossbar and England having an apparent goal by Jesse Lingard waived off for offside after a VAR review.

Overtime was needed to break the deadlock, a 30-minute stretch in which a pair of English defensive blunders proved to be the difference.

First, John Stones had the ball stripped away at the edge of the penalty area by Depay due to some amateurish dribbling. Although the Lyon forward's shot was saved, Promes raced toward the rebound and his attempt went off the leg of Kyle Walker and into the goal in the 97th minute.

Netherlands then put the nail in the coffin at the 114th minute courtesy of another English defensive gaffe.

On the play, a heavy touch by Ross Barkley after a questionable pass from Stones led to Promes scoring off a pass from Depay.

Next up for the young Netherlands side will be a date in Sunday's championship match with Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal, host of the final phase of the inaugural Nations League.

England will square off earlier that same day against Switzerland in the third-place playoff.

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