Netherlands easily defeats Scotland with goals from Wijnaldum and Weghorst despite Scotland’s missed opportunities.

Netherlands easily defeats Scotland with goals from Wijnaldum and Weghorst despite Scotland’s missed opportunities.

Steve Clarke, the manager, did not ask for attractive soccer during the game at the Johan Cruyff Arena. He simply wanted a win for Scotland, who had not tasted victory in their past five games. Unfortunately, the losing streak has now extended to six for Scotland, as they suffered a humiliating defeat under Clarke’s leadership. Their next game against Northern Ireland, at Hampden Park on Tuesday, will be crucial in ending this downward spiral.

His side were profligate and Netherlands clinical, Georginio Wijnaldum’s 72nd-minute header joining Tijjani Reijnders’s first-half opener and emulated by finishes from Wout Weghorst and Donyell Malen, as Scotland’s European Championship preparations suffered a body blow.

The team’s captain, Andy Robertson, exclaimed that the 4-0 score from the game is incredible. He expressed concern about falling back into their old patterns against top teams and emphasized the need to improve significantly for major tournaments.

“If our team does suffer a loss, it’s important to limit the impact on our goal difference. Our goal is not just to qualify for tournaments, but to actively compete in them. We cannot afford to play the way we did against these formidable opponents. While the first 60 to 70 minutes showed promise, the final 20 minutes fell short of our desired performance.”

Scotland started off by dominating their opponents. The Netherlands are known for their skill with the ball and creating space, so it was unexpected to see them struggling and getting out of position when Robertson and Ryan Christie worked together on the left side. The Dutch team managed to prevent this attempt, but it was a demonstration of the clever tactics that Clarke had mentioned wanting to achieve.

Scott McTominay, Jack Hendry, and Billy Gilmour played with calmness and control as they built sequences from the rear. The visiting team almost scored when the Brighton midfielder failed to catch a long cross from the right. Christie leapt towards the ball and headed it, but it hit the crossbar after deflecting off of Mark Flekken’s hand. Unfortunately, Lawrence Shankland was unable to make contact with the rebound.

The members of the Dutch team were unable to prevent the agile players in blue from moving the ball around. It was unfortunate that Jeremie Frimpong did not pass to a teammate while in an open position in the penalty area. Additionally, Frimpong’s poor control of a pass from Memphis Depay, which would have given him a clear shot towards the goal, was also disappointing.

Despite the presence of skilled players such as Nathan Aké, Wijnaldum, Depay, Cody Gakpo, and Virgil van Dijk, the Scottish team did not perform with the same level of energy as their opponents, as seen in Xavi Simons’ unsuccessful free-kick.

Georginio Wijnaldum heads Netherlands into a 2-0 lead during their friendly victoryView image in fullscreen

Yet any delight Clarke felt soured as Netherlands scored. First, Reijnders was given an acre outside Scotland’s area. Then, though his shot was blistering, Angus Gunn failed to elevate himself high enough and in went the opener at around the No 1’s shoulder height.

The Scots were taken by surprise and as a result, Clarke altered his halftime chat. It may have been a good opportunity to bring in Ché Adams for Shankland, as the attacking efforts were lacking. However, he chose not to do so but likely encouraged his team to be efficient and unmerciful in order to succeed in the second half and in Euro 2024. McTominay’s hesitation in the box and subsequent shot will have frustrated Clarke, as the Netherlands once again got away with it.

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The outcome was an increase in the hosts’ confidence. A shot from Depay after a quick play from the Netherlands required a great save from Gunn to his right. This led to John McGinn attempting to score directly and then collecting the rebound from Flekken’s save and passing to Christie. However, his header went wide and a shot from Gilmour was soon deflected. Despite this, it turned out to be a misleading sign for the Scots.

Gakpo had the opportunity to increase the score with a shot that resulted from Netherlands dominating the game. This became a challenge for Scotland to come back from their deficit and handle the pressure. After a mistake from Mats Wieffer, Shankland had the chance to turn things around, but his lob was too high and hit the crossbar.

After enduring 68 minutes, Clarke decided to make a strategic substitution by bringing in three new players- Adams took the place of Shankland, while John Souttar swapped in for Kieran Tierney and Lewis Ferguson replaced Gilmour.

Wijnaldum, Weghorst, and Malen all scored goals, with the Borussia Dortmund player easily getting past Scotland’s defenders. However, their overall performance was lacking.