Virgil van Dijk’s header sealed the Netherlands’ victory against Belgium at the Johan Cruyff Arena. And ensuring they advance to the Nations League finals.
For Louis van Gaal’s team to overcome second-placed Belgium, whom they defeated 4-1 in the rematch in June, they needed to win by three goals.
But after 73 minutes, Liverpool’s Van Dijk intercepted Cody Gakpo’s corner to guarantee their advancement.
In the group stage, the Dutch finished undefeated and six points ahead of Belgium.
Roberto Martinez, the manager of Belgium, called the team’s humiliating loss to the Netherlands in their last encounter “a required wake-up call” and said that his team was out for “revenge” going into their matchup in Amsterdam.
Martinez was forced to watch from the terraces in Amsterdam as Thierry Henry took over in the dugout as he served a touchline suspension.
Belgium attempted to spook the hosts early after beating Wales three days before to maintain their slim chances of making the finals next summer.
Still, Eden Hazard could not capitalize on Amadou Onana’s cutback within the first five minutes.
The first half was quiet for the Dutch, who failed to register a shot on goal. However, when Belgium got things going in the second half, stopping Onana with a one-handed save, Van Dijk assured Van Gaal’s team of victory.
Dodi Lukebakio, a substitute, came close to scoring a thrilling consolation goal for Belgium with an overhead kick that hit the crossbar.
However, Belgium failed to score for the first time in 50 games, and the Netherlands will enter the World Cup riding a 15-match winning streak.
Wales was eliminated from the group after losing to Poland in the other game.