Netherlands scored twice in the last five minutes to recover from two goals down and earn a 2-2 draw against relegated Germany in the Nations League on Monday to secure a spot in next year’s finals ahead of world champions France.
Virgil van Dijk struck a close-range volley in stoppage time to equalise for the visitors after Quincy Promes had cut the deficit in the 85th minute with the Germans having led through early goals from Timo Werner and Leroy Sane.
The Dutch topped League A Group 1 despite finishing level on seven points with France due to a better head-to-head record, and they join Switzerland, England and hosts Portugal for the four-team finals in June.
The Germans, who suffered a shock first-round exit at the World Cup in June and lost a German record six times this year, finished in last place with just two points.
But their lightning-quick young frontline, nicknamed ‘the moped gang’, looked promising and lived up to their tag as 22-year-olds Werner and Sane, plus Serge Gnabry, 23, terrorised the Dutch defence with their speed, especially in the first half.
They had already shown their potential in a 3-0 friendly win over Russia on Thursday as coach Joachim Loew made changes after Germany’s World Cup flop and Nations League relegation.
The Germans took the lead after nine minutes when Werner controlled a pass with his head and then fired in from 20 metres after the ball dropped outside the box.
Sane finished an almost identical move in the 20th minute, latching onto a deep Toni Kroos pass and drilling in the second goal of the evening with a deflected shot from the edge of the box.
The Dutch largely struggled to contain their opponents and remained toothless up front until Promes gave them a lifeline with his late strike.
But their recent turnaround in fortunes continued with a last-gasp equaliser through skipper Van Dijk to book their spot in the competition finals in Portugal.