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07 Jun 2019, 09:08 IST


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Netherlands v England – UEFA Nations League Semi-FinalKyle Walker’s own goal and a clever finish from substitute Quincy Promes were enough for Ronald Koeman’s Netherlands to book their place in Sunday’s UEFA Nations League Final – where they’ll play Portugal after a 3-1 (AET) win against an unpredictable England display in Guimaraes. Marcus Rashford broke the deadlock from the penalty spot after the half-hour mark, converting with poise after Matthijs de Ligt’s lapse in concentration and lunging challenge sent the Manchester United forward sprawling to the turf. Widely considered as one of the world’s best young talents, de Ligt atoned for his error with a trademark bullet header beyond a helpless Jordan Pickford after 73 minutes. It was nothing less than the Dutch deserved, having continued to pile on the pressure against England’s nervy backline.Rashford’s club teammate Jesse Lingard, who had come on after the hour mark, thought he had restored their slender advantage after a well-worked move was finished past Barcelona’s Jasper Cillessen.After VAR review though, his goal was correctly disallowed as the 26-year-old midfielder had strayed marginally offside before Ross Barkley’s pass was played into his path. The scores remained the same and into extra-time we went, but it was England who wilted under the pressure.Catastrophic mistakes in possession by John Stones and Barkley presented Holland with golden opportunities in the final third and despite last-ditch efforts to keep them at bay, it ultimately proved futile. So without further ado, here’s a look at five talking points from another eventful semi-final encounter:#5 Matthijs de Ligt recovered from his early mistake to put up a good performance Despite being at fault for England’s solitary goal, de Ligt equalised and recovered from a sluggish startOver the past twelve months, Matthijs de Ligt’s market value has skyrocketed – as many of Europe’s elite sides have been linked with big money moves for him.Still only 19-years-old, the Ajax captain has led with distinction on all fronts and been unfazed against some of the world’s top attackers: something that has seen him earmarked as the building block to base teams around for the next decade and more.

So with that in mind, when someone as highly-regarded as de Ligt makes a mistake, everyone tends to overreact. He made two in quick succession and was at fault for England’s solitary goal of the game after making a lunging challenge on Rashford in the box, moments after failing to control Marten de Roon’s backpass. Rashford instinctively pounced on the loose ball and naturally, de Ligt panicked as he quickly looked to atone for his mistake. By doing so he made another, conceded a penalty and gifted the Three Lions a slender advantage they didn’t necessarily warrant. Within minutes you had armchair pundits furiously blasting the teenager’s decision-making; claiming he was incompetent, error-prone and vastly overrated. Too big to manoeuvre quickly as a centre-back. Well then, why did he win a game-high six aerial duels, complete three tackles and clearances, one interception and blocked shot – as well as heading home their all-important equaliser? Within a half of football he went from overrated back to his normal transfer value and having effectively nullified Harry Kane, his critics went silent again. He did well to not let his mistake affect the rest of his game but this is something he’ll have to get used to with experience, especially if he joins Ligue 1 champions PSG this summer – the new reported favourites for his services.

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