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AMSTERDAM (AP) — Captain Virgil van Dijk scored only his second international goal and the Netherlands ran riot late in the second half Saturday to beat old rival Germany 3-0 in the UEFA Nations League.
The comprehensive defeat at the Johan Cruyff Arena left Germany at the bottom of Group 1 in the new competition’s top-tier League A days before it heads to Paris to take on group leader and World Cup champion France.
It also heaped more pressure on Germany coach Joachim Loew, who opted to stay in the job after the 2014 world champion crashed out of the summer’s World Cup in Russia at the group stage.
While the Dutch rediscovered their scoring touch — beating Germany by a three-goal margin for the first time — the Germans have lost their way in front of goal, squandering early chances that might have changed the course of what was a close match until the closing 15 minutes.
Loew’s team is now goalless in its last three competitive matches.
Germany’s scoring woes were personified by Loew’s decision to play Mark Uth as a lone striker despite the 27-year-old Schalke striker not scoring a goal yet this season. Uth rarely threatened and was substituted in the second half.
A corner from the right by Memphis Depay exposed German defensive frailties. Babel rose between Jonas Hector and Mats Hummels to head against the underside of the bar and the ball bounced up invitingly for unmarked Liverpool central defender Van Dijk to head in to open the scoring after 30 minutes.
Depay doubled the lead in the 87th, calmly finishing after a quick break down the right by substitute Quincy Promes. The Olympique Lyon striker then hit the crossbar in extra time before Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum made it 3-0 with virtually the last kick of the match as Germany crumbled.
Van Dijk’s opening goal came after the Netherlands had withstood strong pressure from Germany early on. Timo Werner and Jonas Hector on the right repeatedly caused problems for the Dutch defense.
Werner beat Matthijs de Ligt for pace in the 15th but was not quite quick enough to reach a sharp pass by Thomas Mueller.
Mueller had a shot well saved by Jasper Cillessen before Uth, in his first international, twice came close to opening the scoring before Van Dijk put the hosts ahead.
After initially struggling against Werner, debutant left back Denzel Dumfries showed his attacking qualities by twice swinging in dangerous crosses from the right, first for Ryan Babel who just failed to get a touch at the far post and then in the last minute of the first half for Depay whose glancing header went just wide of Manuel Neuer’s right hand post.
Ronald Koeman gave three Dutch players a debut in Saturday’s match as he rebuilds the Netherlands following its failure to qualify for the last two major tournaments.