Bale Says He Gets More Enjoyment From Wales Than Real Madrid

Wales’ forward Gareth Bale poses before the Euro 2020 football qualification match between Slovakia and Wales in Trnava on October 10, 2019. VLADIMIR SIMICEK / AFP

 

Gareth Bale has risked fuelling the criticism of his commitment to Real Madrid by admitting on Friday he is more excited playing for Wales than for the Spanish giants.

Bale has not featured for Real since scoring in his country’s 1-1 draw against Croatia on October 13 and a calf injury has prevented him from even training with his club’s first-team squad.

So his decision to join up with Wales for their final Euro 2020 qualifiers against Azerbaijan in Baku on Saturday and Hungary on Tuesday has drawn negative comments in the Spanish press.

READ ALSO: Tsitsipas Shocks Federer To Reach Final At ATP Finals

“I definitely have more excitement playing for Wales,” Bale said at a press conference in Baku.

“I’ve been with most of the older players since we were in the Under-17s. It’s like playing with your mates down the park on a Sunday. It’s normal.

“With Wales, I’m speaking my own language and feel more comfortable. But it doesn’t change what I do on the pitch. I always give 100 percent on the pitch wherever I am, that’s what I always strive to do.”

Former Real players and the media regularly accuse Bale of putting his love of golf before the club.

“I find it hilarious, to be honest, especially some of the pictures and stuff my friends send me,” Bale said.

“On one it said triple bogey – and I’ve never had a triple bogey! At least give me an albatross! It’s funny.

“Some of the things I have seen, people don’t understand and don’t know what they’re on about. So I just find it quite funny.”

To have a chance of qualifying for their second successive European Championship, Wales probably need to win both games.

Bale said he wasn’t sure he would play the whole of both matches but defended his return to action in time for the Wales matches.

“I’ve done as much as I can in terms of trying to get back as quick as I can.

“If there had been a Real Madrid game this week, I would’ve been fit and training to play. Maybe to them, it doesn’t look great, but it’s just a kind of coincidence that the national team comes around this week.”

Loew Downplays Germany As Euro 2020 Favourites

Germany’s headcoach Joachim Loew attends a press conference ahead of the UEFA EURO 2020 qualification football match between Germany and Belarus in Duesseldorf, western Germany, on November 15, 2019.
INA FASSBENDER / AFP

 

Germany head coach Joachim Loew insisted Friday his fledgeling team cannot be considered among the favourites for Euro 2020 as they look to wrap up qualification against Belarus this weekend.

“I don’t think we’re among the top favourites,” said Loew ahead of Saturday’s Group C qualifier, citing world champions France, England, the Netherlands or Spain as potential winners next summer.

“A lot is possible, this team has great qualities, but many players still need a few more years to develop.”

Germany, who are second in Group C, will book their Euros place in Moenchengladbach if they better Northern Ireland’s result in their match against group leaders the Netherlands.

The Germans are level on points with the Dutch with the top two teams going through, and Loew is eager to wrap up qualification before Tuesday’s final qualifier against Northern Ireland, who are three points back in third.

“We’re two steps from the Euro 2020 finals, we want to win the last two games and have a positive end to the year,” said Loew.

READ ALSO: Ajax Reappoint Van der Sar As Chief Executive Until 2023

However, Loew says his young Germany team is still a “work in progress” in the wake of last year’s World Cup debacle in Russia.

His side were humbled 4-2 at home in September by the Dutch, before throwing away a two-goal lead against a weak Argentina in last month’s 2-2 friendly draw in Dortmund.

After Germany failed to qualify from their group at the 2018 World Cup finals, the 59-year-old cleaned out his squad in March by informing Thomas Mueller, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng their international careers were over.

However, two key players in Loew’s new-look team, winger Leroy Sane, 23, and defender Niklas Suele, 24, are sidelined with long-term knee injuries.

Borussia Moenchengladbach defender Matthias Ginter, 25, will lead Germany’s back four against Belarus at Borussia Park.

“I have the feeling that ‘Matze’ (Ginter) is a bit undervalued, but I know how reliable he is and how well he can perform,” added Loew.

However with Ginter’s fellow centre back Suele set to miss most of the season, Loew has refused to recall Boateng or Hummels, his key defenders when Germany won the 2014 World Cup.

“The main thing is that he (Suele) returns fit, no one knows when he will be back on the pitch next,” added Loew.

Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos, Ilkay Gundogan of Manchester City and Bayern Munich’s Leon Goretzka will form Germany’s midfield behind RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner, who has scored 11 goals in as many Bundesliga games.

Germany captain Manuel Neuer is under pressure in goal from Barcelona star Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Loew has said Neuer will start against Belarus on Saturday while Ter Stegen will face the Northern Irish three days later.

AFP

Six Arrested Over Racist Abuse At England Match

England’s forward Harry Kane (C) speaks with the referees during a temporary interruption of the Euro 2020 Group A football qualification match between Bulgaria and England at the Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia on October 14, 2019. NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV / AFP

 

Six Bulgarians have been detained over racist abuse at a Euro 2020 qualifier against England that sparked a storm of protest and led to the resignation of the country’s football chief, police said Wednesday.

Monkey chants and apparent Nazi salutes overshadowed England’s 6-0 win in Sofia on Monday, with the match halted twice during the first half due to the abuse.

“Six people have been detained and another three are being actively sought,” Sofia police chief commissioner Georgy Hadzhiev told journalists.

Hadzhiev added that so far 15 people have been singled out via CCTV at the Vasil Levski National Stadium as being suspected of directing abuse against England’s black players.

Police in the central city of Plovdiv said they were calling in for questioning 13 others, who were allegedly also part of the group of black-clad men who sparked trouble at the game, according to public BNR radio.

Penalties for the offences carry brief detentions, fines and bans from sporting events.

In total, 15,000 people watched the match at a stadium already partially closed after racist incidents during games against Kosovo and the Czech Republic in June.

England manager Gareth Southgate told reporters after the game that his side had been ready to walk off the pitch if the abusive behaviour continued but players decided to complete the match.

The incident sparked a storm of angry reactions from fans, media and officials in both countries.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the “vile” racism, while his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov forced the country’s football federation chief Borislav Mihaylov to offer his resignation on Tuesday.

In a statement late Tuesday, Bulgarian national team manager Krasimir Balakov offered his apologies to the England player.

The scandal divided Bulgarians — while many apologised in posts on social media about what they said was a pervasive problem in the country, others refused to be identified with the offenders and condemned British media headlines that called all Bulgarians “racists” and “animals”.

UEFA announced that it was launching a probe into the behaviour of both the Bulgaria and England fans. Its president Aleksander Ceferin stressed the commitment of European football’s governing body to root out the “disease” of racism.

Bulgaria Football Chief Resigns After Racist Abuse

England’s forward Harry Kane (C) speaks with the referees during a temporary interruption of the Euro 2020 Group A football qualification match between Bulgaria and England on October 14, 2019. NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV / AFP

 

Bulgaria’s football union chief resigned Tuesday, a day after a match against England was twice halted because of racist abuse.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov had urged Borislav Mihaylov, the president of the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU), to immediately step down following Monday’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia.

The match, which England won 6-0, was halted twice after England players were targeted by racist chanting.

The BFU said in a statement on its website that Mihaylov presented his resignation Tuesday and would hand it to the members of the BFU executive committee during its meeting Friday.

“His decision resulted from the tension created over the past days, which is detrimental to Bulgarian football and the Bulgarian Football Union,” the statement said.

Borisov said on Facebook that it was “inadmissible that Bulgaria… is associated with racism and xenophobia” and he “categorically condemned the behaviour of some of those present at the stadium”.

Earlier Tuesday, BFU media chief Hristo Zapryanov had said his union was not to blame for the trouble, dismissing Monday’s incidents as “inadmissable” but saying the BFU had no power “to investigate and to track hooligans”.

England manager Gareth Southgate said his side had made a statement by deciding to complete the match instead of leaving the pitch in the face of the abuse, calling it “an unacceptable situation”.

Mihaylov has headed the football federation since 2005. During his time in charge Bulgaria have failed to qualify for any major tournament.

Before the game, he had urged UEFA to stop “tensions” after England forward Tammy Abraham said his team was prepared to walk off the pitch if they faced abuse during Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Mihaylov had said the BFU had made “extreme efforts and measures… to ensure a fair and safe environment”.

Bulgaria PM Urges Football Chief To Resign After England Match Racism

England’s players wait on the pitch during temporary interruption of the Euro 2020 Group A football qualification match between Bulgaria and England due to incidents with fans, at the Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia on October 14, 2019. PHOTO: Stringer / AFP

 

Bulgaria’s prime minister on Tuesday urged the country’s football union president Borislav Mihaylov to resign after a match against England was twice halted because of racist abuse.

“I urge Borislav Mihaylov to hand in his resignation immediately!” Prime Minister Boyko Borisov wrote on Facebook, adding it was “inadmissible that Bulgaria… is associated with racism and xenophobia”.

The Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia, which England won 6-0, was halted after England players were targeted by racist chanting.

Borisov said he “categorically condemned the behaviour of some of those present at the stadium,” insisting that EU member Bulgaria was “one of the most tolerant countries in the world”.

Borisov said the government would sever all ties, including financial, with the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) over what he called “a shameful loss” and the overall poor standing of Bulgarian football until Mihaylov resigned.

England manager Gareth Southgate said his side had made a statement by deciding to complete the match instead of leaving the pitch in the face of the abuse, calling it “an unacceptable situation”.

Mihaylov has headed the football federation since 2005. During his time in charge Bulgaria have failed to qualify for any major tournament.

Before the game, he had urged UEFA to stop “tensions” after England player Tammy Abraham said his team was prepared to walk off the pitch if they faced abuse during Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Mihaylov had said the BFU had made “extreme efforts and measures… to ensure a fair and safe environment”.

Euro 2020: Ukraine Qualify Despite Ronaldo’s 700th Goal

Ukraine’s players celebrate after the Euro 2020 football qualification match between Ukraine and Portugal at the NSK Olimpiyskyi stadium in Kiev on October 14, 2019. Genya SAVILOV / AFP

 

Ukraine beat Portugal 2-1 on Monday to clinch a place in the Euro 2020 finals despite Cristiano Ronaldo’s 700th career goal.

Roman Yaremchuk gave the hosts a sixth minute lead. Andriy Yarmolenko added a second after 23 minutes.

Although Ronaldo scored his landmark goal from the penalty spot in the 72nd minute and Taras Stepanenko was sent off, Ukraine held on to secure first place in Group B.

Ukraine join already qualified Poland, Russia, Italy and Belgium.

Cristiano Ronaldo Scores 700th Career Goal

Portugal’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo in action during the Euro 2020 football qualification match between Ukraine and Portugal at the NSK Olimpiyskyi stadium in Kiev on October 14, 2019. AFP

 

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored his 700th career goal for club or country when he converted a 72nd minute penalty for Portugal in their Euro 2020 qualifier at Ukraine on Monday.

Ukraine were leading the Group B match 2-0 when Taras Stepanenko blocked a shot with his hand,  collecting a second yellow card and being sent off before Ronaldo converted from the spot to pull a goal back.

Either team could ensure a place in next summer’s finals with a win.

Ukraine join already qualified Poland, Russia, Italy and Belgium at next summer’s finals, while second-placed Portugal, who are eight points behind Ukraine, have Serbia just a point behind them with two matches remaning after they beat Lithuania 2-1.

“There are days like these, when the ball just doesn’t want to go in,” said Portuguese midfielder Danilo. “No need to do the maths now: we just need to win the next two games to reach Euro 2020.”

Yaremchuk pounced from close range in the sixth minute. The centre forward reacted fastest after Rui Patricio dived to parry Serhiy Kryvtsov’s header from a corner, and poke the ball across the line.

Yarmolenko added the second when outpaced the Portuguese defence to finish a swift counter attack with a low, crisp first-time shot.

Portugal dominated the second half and finally achieved a breakthrough when Stepanenko blocked a shot with his arm, receiving his marching orders

The goal was his 95th for Portugal. The 34-year-old is now just 14 goals behind the all-time international record of 109 held by former Iran striker Ali Daei.

While the exact number of goals scored by some of the game’s legends is the subject of debate, Ronaldo is agreed to be the sixth player to reach 700 after Austrian Josef Bican, Brazilians Romario and Pele, Hungarian Ferenc Puskas and German Gerd Muller.

 

Racist Abuse Disrupts England Euro Match In Bulgaria

England’s forward Harry Kane (C) speaks with the referees during a temporary interruption of the Euro 2020 Group A football qualification match between Bulgaria and England. AFP

 

England’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria was twice halted in the first-half due to racist chanting in Sofia.

The Three Lions led 2-0 through early goals from Marcus Rashford and Ross Barkley when play was first stopped and an announcement made to supporters that the game could be suspended if offensive chanting continued.

Once restarted, England quickly made it 3-0 through Barkley. Then play  was interrupted a second time as Croatian referee Ivan Bebek held discussions with players and coaching staff from both sides.

In total, played was halted for six minutes.

Raheem Sterling added a fourth England goal before half-time.

A section of 5,000 seats at the Vasil Levski National Stadium was already closed for the game after racism during games against Kosovo and the Czech Republic in June.

Sterling was also the subject of racist abuse from a Bulgarian fan when the sides met last month in England’s 4-0 win at Wembley.

On the eve of the match, Bulgaria manager Krasimir Balakov claimed that there is a bigger problem with racism in English football than in his country.

“In the Bulgarian championship, we have a lot of players of different ethnicities and skin colour,” said Balakov.

“I don’t think that we have this big problem like, for example, England do.”

After several England players suffered racist abuse in a qualifier away to Montenegro in March, Gareth Southgate had prepared his side to follow UEFA’s three-step protocol for reporting racist incidents that can lead to matches being abandoned.

Italy Beat Greece To Seal Spot At Euro 2020

Italy’s players celebrate after winning the UEFA Euro 2020 Group J qualifier football match against Greece at the Stadio Olimpico stadium in Rome, on October 12, 2019. Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

 

 

Italy became the second team to qualify for Euro 2020 after a 2-0 win over Greece on Saturday, while three-time champions Spain edged closer to the finals despite conceding a stoppage-time equaliser away to Norway.

Chelsea midfielder Jorginho dispatched a second-half penalty as Italy, wearing green kits for just the second time in history, registered a seventh straight win in Group J.

The Azzurri, who failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, added a second in Rome on 78 minutes through a deflected strike from Juventus forward Federico Bernardeschi.

READ ALSO: US Boxer Day Hospitalised After ‘Brutal’ Knockout

Roberto Mancini’s side joined Belgium in the draw for next year’s finals, where Italy will play their first two group games at the Stadio Olimpico.

“We managed to create a team in a short period of time. It wasn’t easy but you have to thank the players, who have quickly developed an understanding between themselves,” said Mancini, who took over as Italy coach 18 months ago.

“It’s a team with character that fights and plays with the ball but one that must also improve. Now we have a year to try and get better.

“We have a lot of work but we’re not very far from the best European teams. I’m happy and proud to have helped the national team come through a tough patch.”

Spain dropped their first points in Group F as Joshua King converted a 94th-minute spot-kick to rescue a 1-1 draw for Norway following a foul by goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga on Omar Elabdellaoui.

Sergio Ramos broke the Spanish international appearances record as he won his 168th cap in Oslo to overtake Iker Casillas.

The visitors led when Saul Niguez slammed home from 20 yards moments after half-time but Spain were denied a seventh win in a row as King’s equaliser kept Norway in the running.

“It’s a real pain to lose points in the final seconds. It’s complicated to play against a team who knew that if they lost they were pretty much out,” said Spain captain Ramos.

Norway last qualified for a major tournament at the 2000 European Championship and are fourth in the group, four points adrift of neighbours Sweden with three games to play.

Sebastian Larsson netted two spot-kicks as Sweden cruised to a 4-0 rout of Malta to reclaim second place behind Spain. Marcus Danielson broke the deadlock on 11 minutes in Ta’ Qali and home skipper Andrei Agius also scored an own goal.

Romania remain a point behind Sweden following a 3-0 win in the Faroe Islands secured by second-half goals from George Puscas, Ionut Mitrita and Claudiu Keseru.

– Schmeichel denies Switzerland –

Kasper Schmeichel produced a series of excellent saves as Denmark defeated Switzerland 1-0 to climb level with the Republic of Ireland in Group D.

Leicester City goalkeeper Schmeichel pulled off superb stops to deny Granit Xhaka, Admir Mehmedi and Ricardo Rodriguez before Yussuf Poulsen grabbed an 84th-minute winner for Denmark in Copenhagen.

The Danes moved up to 12 points alongside group leaders Ireland, who drew 0-0 away to Georgia, while Switzerland are four points off the pace but with a game in hand.

“We battled for the whole game, there was a tremendous atmosphere. I think that was one of my best performances for Denmark,” said Schmeichel.

Mick McCarthy’s Ireland couldn’t establish any momentum earlier in the day in Tbilisi and were left frustrated by wayward finishing from their few opportunities to break the deadlock.

Bosnia and Herzegovina reignited their qualification hopes in Italy’s group with a 4-1 win over second-placed Finland.

A brace from Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic and goals from Izet Hajrovic and Armin Hodzic pushed Bosnia to within two points of Finland.

Armenia blew the chance to move level with the Finns as Liechtenstein substitute Yanik Frick cancelled out Tigran Barseghyan’s effort in a 1-1 draw in Vaduz.

AFP

Euro Qualifiers: Denmark Edge Switzerland After Ireland Draw

Denmark’s Simon Kjaer celebrates with team mates after Yussuf Yurary Poulsen scored a goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Group D qualifying round football match between Denmark and Switzerland on October 12, 2019 at the Telia Parken stadium in Copenhagen. Liselotte Sabroe / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP

 

Kasper Schmeichel produced a series of excellent saves as Denmark defeated Switzerland 1-0 in Euro 2020 qualifying Saturday to pull level with Republic of Ireland in Group D.

Leicester City goalkeeper Schmeichel pulled off superb stops to deny Granit Xhaka, Admir Mehmedi and Ricardo Rodriguez before Yussuf Poulsen grabbed an 84th-minute winner for Denmark in Copenhagen.

The Danes moved up to 12 points alongside group leaders Ireland, who drew 0-0 away to Georgia, while Switzerland are four points off the pace but with a game in hand.

Mick McCarthy’s Ireland couldn’t establish any momentum earlier in the day in Tbilisi and were left frustrated by wayward finishing from their few opportunities to break the deadlock.

Romania took over second place in Group F following a 3-0 win in the Faroe Islands secured by second-half goals from George Puscas, Ionut Mitrita and Claudiu Keseru.

Sweden could move back above Romania with victory in Malta later although defeat would open the door for three-time European champions Spain to secure qualification with a win away to Norway.

Italy, who have six wins from six in Group J, can clinch their place at the finals with victory over Greece in Rome.

Bosnia and Herzegovina reignited their qualification hopes with a 4-1 win over second-placed Finland.

A brace from Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic and goals from Izet Hajrovic and Armin Hodzic pushed Bosnia to within two points of Finland, who could be joined by Armenia if they beat Liechtenstein in Vaduz.

AFP

Moore Keeps Wales Euro Hopes Afloat In Slovakia Draw

Slovak players celebrate scoring during the UEFA Euro 2020 Group E qualification football match Slovakia v Wales in Trnava, Slovakia on October 10, 2019. VLADIMIR SIMICEK / AFP

 

Former lifeguard Kieffer Moore scored on his international debut as Wales drew 1-1 with Slovakia on Thursday as Ryan Giggs’ side stayed afloat in Euro 2020 qualifying.

Moore headed home in the 25th minute in Trnava before Slovakia deservedly levelled early in the second period through Juraj Kucka.

The result left Wales with seven points in Group E, six behind leaders Croatia and three back from Slovakia but they do have the luxury of a game in hand and a better head-to-head record over the Slovaks.

Moore, a towering 6ft 5in (1.96m) centre-forward who plays his club football with Wigan in the English secod tier, opened the scoring in the 25th minute.

The 27-year-old rose unmarked just outside the six-yard box to head in from a pinpoint cross from Manchester United’s Daniel James out on the left.

James had been picked out by a raking crossfield pass from Gareth Bale.

Just moments earlier, Bale, who came into the game with fresh doubts over his future at Real Madrid, had headed against the crossbar.

Bale has a liking for Slovakia. His first international goal goal came at home to the same opponents in 2006.

He had also been on target against them during a 2-1 win at Euro 2016.

For Moore, it was an international debut to remember. Just six years ago, he was playing non-league football and working as a lifeguard to make ends meet.

Wales thought they should have had a penalty as the opening period closed but defender Norbert Gyomber’s clumsy sliding challenge on Jonny Williams was deemed legitimate by the referee.

Slovakia had some of the best opportunities in the early exchanges.

Robert Mak cleverly created space in the penalty area but teenage defender Ethan Ampadu blocked the drive.

Mak again had a sight of goal as half-time approached before full-back Connor Roberts came to the rescue.

The home side did eventually pull level eight minutes into the second half.

Wales only half-cleared a cross and with time to set himself midfielder Kucka unleashed a fierce left-foot volley from 20 yards which left goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey floundering.

Slovakia continued to pile on the pressure with Mak again denied by a block before Hennessey needed to dive at full stretch to push away a drive from the impressive Parma star Kucka.

As time ticked away, Gyomber was red-carded for a lunge on Moore before Bale, already on a yellow card, ended the game shaking off a knock picked up in a crude, late challenge on Milan Skriniar.

AFP

Euro 2020: Netherlands Sink Northern Ireland

Netherlands’ Luuk de Jong (L) and Memphis Depay celebrate at the end of the UEFA Euro 2020 group C qualifying football match between the Netherlands and Northern Ireland in Rotterdam on October 10, 2019. Maurice van STEEN / ANP / AFP

 

Luuk de Jong and Memphis Depay inspired the Netherlands’ thrilling fightback as they scored three times in the last 10 minutes to seal a dramatic 3-1 win over Northern Ireland in Thursday’s Euro 2020 qualifier.

Ronald Koeman’s side were in danger of a shock defeat when Josh Magennis put the visitors ahead at De Kuip.

But the Feyenoord Stadium has been a fortress for the Netherlands and they have now won their last 17 games at the venue.

Memphis Depay sparked the dramatic finale with his 80th minute equaliser and De Jong bagged the crucial second in stoppage-time.

There was still time for Depay to strike again to complete the remarkable comeback.

The Netherlands sit top of Group C in the race to qualify for next year’s European Championships.

They are ahead of second placed Germany and third placed Northern Ireland, with all three teams having 12 points.

Significantly, the Netherlands and Germany have played one game less than Northern Ireland.

Koeman’s men will visit Windsor Park to face Northern Ireland again in November.

Koeman had warned his players to be wary of Northern Ireland’s “fighting machines”.

And Michael O’Neill’s side did everything in their power to claim a famous upset before running out of steam in the final minutes.

Kyle Lafferty, who is yet to score for Norwegian club Sarpsborg since joining in August, led the attack for Northern Ireland.

Lafferty was tasked with breaking down a Dutch defence anchored by Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk and he caused them some uncomfortable moments with his relentless pressing.

The Dutch were struggling to find any rhythm and when Ryan Babel teed up Georginio Wijnaldum, his shot was well blocked by Stuart Dallas, with Daley Blind blazing wide from the follow-up.

Northern Ireland kept up their defiant rearguard action as Steven Bergwijn’s shot was blocked by Jonny Evans.

By the time Wijnaldum shanked well over from Depay’s pass soon after the interval, it was clear Koeman’s team were growing frustrated.

Koeman sent on Donyell Malen and Donny van de Beek midway through the half in a bid to prise open the Irish defence.

Wijnaldum had an acrobatic strike hacked off the line by Leicester defender Evans.

However, it was Northern Ireland who snatched the shock lead against the run of play in the 75th minute.

When the Dutch made a hash of clearing, Dallas worked space on the touchline to loft a cross towards Magennis.

With Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt caught under the ball, Hull striker Magennis rose highest to head home from close-range.

But Depay came to the Netherlands’ rescue 10 minutes from full-time when the Lyon forward calmly slotted home from Malen’s pass.

Suddenly, the hosts were rampant and their pressure was rewarded in stoppage-time as De Jong poked home from virtually on the goal-line.

It was a heart-breaking moment for Northern Ireland and Depay finished them off when he rolled in his second goal off the post.

AFP