This evening, both Croatia and the Netherlands secured their spots in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals. Both teams entered their final group games with the top slot assured, and neither faltered as Croatia defeated Austria and Netherlands narrowly defeated Belgium.
The talismanic Luka Modric opened the scoring after just six minutes, giving Croatia the advantage, they needed to advance to the semi-finals ahead of Denmark.
However, Christoph Baumgartner quickly restored parity, and the World Cup runners-up of 2018 appeared in danger of losing their lead after Denmark defeated France in the second group match.
With just 20 minutes left, a quick-fire double put an end to any uncertainty, as Marko Livaja and former Liverpool player Dejan Lovren each scored a header to give Croatia the victory.
The Netherlands defeated Belgium to advance to the semi-finals, and Virgil van Dijk, an ex-Leverkusen teammate, scored the game’s lone goal. Belgium needed to lose by three goals or more to overtake Louis van Gaal’s team in the standings, but that never appeared to happen as Roberto Martinez’s team failed to score for the first time, since the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, which was 50 matches ago.
Van Dijk’s header from Cody Gakpo’s corner in the 73rd minute proved to be the game-winner as Netherlands finished the Nations League season unblemished and six points ahead of Belgium, dropping only two of a possible 18 points.
The story in the rest of the groups of the UEFA Nations League
Wales will finish last in the group and be relegated to League B as a result of Poland’s 1-0 victory against Wales in this evening’s other Group A4 game, while Poland will come in third.
World champions France avoided relegation in Group A1’s other match despite losing 2-0 to Denmark thanks to Austria’s defeat by Croatia.
However, Didier Deschamps’ team only manages to finish one point above the relegation zone and eight points behind Croatia, who won the group, having only won one and lost three of their six games.
In fact, Les Bleus have already lost three competitive games this calendar year, tying their joint-worst ever total in a calendar year, even before this winter’s World Cup.
Within five first-half minutes of one another, Kasper Dolberg and Andreas Skov Olsen each scored to give Denmark three more points and finish the season with four victories from six games.
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