Ronald Koeman’s Netherlands side were looking to get their new era off to a good start as they hosted England at the Amsterdam Arena.
However, Gareth Southgate’s experimental squad managed to win 1-0 thanks to a Jesse Lingard strike, writes Rajan Hothi.
Netherlands lined up with a 3-5-2. Jeroen Zoet was picked in goal ahead of Jasper Cillessen. Virgil Van Dijk, Matthijs de Ligt and Stefan De Vrij played in the back three while Patrick van Aanholt, Kevin Strootman, Georgino Wijnaldum, Hans Hateboer and Memphis Depay made up the midfield five with Memphis Depay playing just behind a front two of Quincy Promes and Bas Dost.
Exciting Ajax youngster Justin Kluivert was forced to settle for a place on the bench. Ex-Liverpool winger Ryan Babel was also on the bench alongside Bournemouth’s Nathan Aké
England also set up with three at the back, going with a 3-4-3 formation.
Of the four keepers Southgate selected for his squad, Jordan Pickford was the man chosen to start.
Kyle Walker, John Stones and Joe Gomez made up the back three, while Danny Rose, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Trippier occupied the midfield four. The front three consisted of Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard.
James Tarkowski, Nick Pope, Alfie Mawson and Lewis Cook were all on the bench as they were awaiting their first senior cap for The Three Lions.
Holland were looking to restore some pride by carrying on their good run against England after they failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
The first-half was a half where chances were few and far between.
England were forced to make a change early in the game after Gomez sustained an ankle injury, and Leicester defender Harry Maguire came on in place of Gomez.
The opening fifteen minutes were cagey with the only real chance being Oxlade-Chamberlain’s strike which was comfortably saved by Zoet.
Koeman’s side’s first chance came when De Ligt had an audacious effort from range which forced Pickford into his first save of the night.
Holland had another chance when Pickford came out for a corner but failed to claim the ball. However, Dost could not convert his header on target.
England almost took the lead just after the half-hour mark when Walker’s free-kick was headed just wide by Jordan Henderson.
Just before half-time, Memphis had a shot easily saved by Pickford following a poor throw-in from Rose.
The two sides went into the interval level at 0-0.
England had a penalty claim turned down in the 50th minute as Rashford looked to be taken out by De Ligt, but nothing was given.
There was another half-chance for Southgate’s side as Trippier’s corner caused a goalmouth scramble between Sterling and Van Aanholt, though nothing came of it.
However, England’s dominance was rewarded just before the hour mark. A nice passing move, with Lingard, Chamberlain and Rashford linking up, ended with Lingard getting the ball on the edge of the box where he calmly tucked home past Zoet to put England 1-0 up.
The Netherlands were looking to respond quickly and had their best chance of the game just five minutes after England’s goal. Memphis Depay’s miss-kick found Dost who failed to convert from close-range.
Dele Alli, Jamie Vardy and Danny Welbeck came on for England in order to freshen things up. While Brighton’s Davy Propper and winger Ryan Babel came on for Holland in an attempt to turn the game on its head.
Trippier almost put England 2-0 up when his fierce strike was expertly saved by Zoet.
Target man Donny van de Beek came on for Holland as Koeman threw one last throw of the dice. However, England held on and won for the first time in eight games against the Netherlands.
After the game, England captain Jordan Henderson said: ” I thought we deserved the win. We look solid with the three at the back, and we moved the ball well.”
He continued ” I thought we could’ve created more, but we did enough in the end.”
England manager Gareth Southgate hinted that the back three is here to stay.
“I thought the back three were brilliant and composed. We will have to get used to the back three and Jordan (Pickford) taking risks as that’s how we want to play.”