Virgil Van Dijk delighted with nervous Netherlands’ never-say-die spirit

Virgil van Dijk and Memphis Depay

Northern Ireland led with 10 minutes to go in Rotterdam, but three late goals moved Netherlands top of their Euro 2020 qualifying group.

Virgil van Dijk conceded nerves crept in when Netherlands were trailing Northern Ireland with 10 minutes to go, yet the Oranje captain felt his team’s 3-1 victory was entirely deserved.

Netherlands moved top of Group C with their 17th successive victory at De Kuip, though their visitors looked like pulling off a heist in Rotterdam when substitute Josh Magennis climbed above Matthijs de Ligt to head home with 15 minutes remaining.

Yet Memphis Depay levelled five minutes later before Luuk de Jong poked Netherlands ahead in stoppage time and Depay added a late third to move Ronald Koeman’s side top of Group C.

Netherlands, Germany and Northern Ireland are all on 12 points in the Euro 2020 qualifying group – yet the former two nations have a game in hand and are on course to secure the top two spots.

“We continued to search patiently,” Van Dijk told NOS.

“Certainly in the second half we did better with pressure. You try to keep everyone calm because our chances do come.

“You will see it happen. I think the victory is justified. It was a pinch at the end.”

Netherlands had just one shot on target in the first half and barely threatened Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s goal before Magennis’ opener, at which point Van Dijk became slightly concerned.

“You come back 1-0 [down] and the nerves creep into it, but we have responded well,” Van Dijk added.

“We have the qualities to never give up, and moreover opponents can often no longer walk. Of course it wasn’t our best game.”

With a home game against Netherlands and a trip to Germany to come for Northern Ireland in November, their chances of reaching Euro 2020 via the group appear slim.

“We just said after the game that we shouldn’t get the heads down,” Magennis told Sky Sports.

“We put in incredible work rate off the ball. We knew how difficult it was going to be.

“We knew they would get chances, and unfortunately for us they took three of them tonight.

“It is a bitter pill to swallow.”

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