LONDON, September 5: Steven Bergwijn ensured the Netherlands did not feel the absence of recently departed coach Ronald Koeman to beat Poland 1-0 in the Nations League, while Italy’s record winning run came to an end in a 1-1 draw with Bosnia and Herzegovina on Friday.
Koeman left to take charge of Barcelona last month, less than a year before he was due to lead his country to a major international tournament for the first time.
A rejuvenated Netherlands reached the final of the inaugural Nations League under Koeman and Bergwijn is one of a number of exciting young talents alongside Frenkie De Jong and Matthijs de Ligt that make the Dutch among the favourites for next year’s Euros.
The Tottenham winger netted his first international goal by tapping home from close range on the hour mark to give caretaker boss Dwight Lodeweges the perfect start.
Also in League A Group 1, Italy extended their two-year unbeaten run but a run of 11 straight wins came to an end in in Florence.
Edin Dzeko put the visitors in front in the country where he plays his club football for Roma before Stefano Sensi levelled 10 minutes later.
“We’re disappointed not to win, but there was no sharpness,” said Italy boss Roberto Mancini. “Our winning streak had to end sooner or later, and we’re glad it came with a draw and not a defeat.”
Scotland and Israel drew 1-1 in a dress rehearsal of their Euro 2020 playoff semi-final back at Hampden next month.
Ryan Christie’s penalty late in the first-half masked a poor performance from Steve Clarke’s side, who were pegged back 17 minutes from time when Eran Zahavi drilled high into the far corner.
Clarke handed Lyndon Dykes a debut up front, while he changed to three at the back to try and fit left-backs Kieran Tierney of Arsenal and Liverpool’s Andy Robertson into the same team.
“I think we should be doing better,” said Dykes. “Looking at the squad, we’ve got world class (players). We need a bit of belief, a bit of confidence.”
In the other game in the group, the Czech Republic shrugged off the disruption of key players Tomas Soucek and Patrik Schick being forced to self-isolate after coming into contact with a backroom staff member who tested positive for coronavirus.
The Czechs beat neighbours Slovakia 3-1 in Bratislava.
Gavin Whyte’s goal four minutes from time salvaged a 1-1 draw for Northern Ireland in Romania despite being down to 10 men for over 50 minutes after Josh Magennis’s first half red card.
Erling Haaland’s first international goal for Norway was not enough as the hosts lost 2-1 to Austria in Oslo.
Michael Gregoritsch and Marcel Sabitzer’s penalty put the visitors 2-0 in front before the Borussia Dortmund striker’s deft finish opened his international account.
In League C, Kazakhstan beat Lithuania 2-0, while Albania were 2-0 victors in Belarus. (AFP)