A late barrage from the Netherlands dealt a hammer blow to Northern Ireland’s qualification hopes for Euro 2020.
Josh Magennis’ 75th-minute goal gave the away side the lead before three goals – two from Memphis Depay - in the final 10 minutes gave the Dutch all three points.
For much of the game, Northern Ireland were on the back foot with their resistance failing in the dying embers of the game.
Michael O’Neill sprung a surprise in starting Kyle Lafferty up front with Shane Ferguson filling in for Jamal Lewis at left-back.
In the first half, The Netherlands controlled the ball but didn’t create too much in the way of goalscoring opportunities.
The Dutch got their first sight of goal midway through the opening period when Liverpool midfielder Gini Wijnaldum had a shot blocked from 16 yards and Daley Blind blazed the follow-up over the bar.
The only other chance of note saw Wijnaldum’s weak header easily saved by Bailey Peacock-Farrell in the Northern Ireland goal.
The away side were without a shot on goal, but still very much in the game heading into the second half.
Two chances came and went for the home side early in the second half. Wijnaldum’s effort found the Northern Ireland fans behind the goal before Denzel Dumfries slipped at the vital moment when he found space inside the six-yard box.
Northern Ireland were let off the hook as Steven Bergwijn tamely volleyed at Peacock-Farrell when a square pass to Memphis Depay would have resulted in a certain goal.
Another chance for Wijnaldum went begging as he failed to get a crucial touch with the goal at his mercy. This roused the home fans who found their voice as Northern Ireland seemed on the ropes with a little over 15 minutes to play.
But Michael O’Neill’s side hit back with a counter punch that Carl Frampton himself would have been proud of. Stuart Dallas dug out a cross to the back post and Josh Magennis headed home to send the Green and White Army wild.
Magennis who came on as a sub for Lafferty producing Northern Ireland’s first shot on target in the game.
But the Dutch hit back with 10 minutes to play. Former Manchester United forward Memphis Depay found space in the box and finished under Peacock-Farrell to set up a grandstand finale in Rotterdam.
And Northern Ireland’s defensive lapses in injury time dealt a cruel blow to Michael O’Neill’s side.
Goals from Luuk de Jong and Depay giving the Dutch a crucial win in the race for Euro 2020.
Next up is the return game in Belfast on the 16th November. Northern Ireland will need to get something from that game to stand any hopes of qualifying through the group.
- Netherlands (4-3-3)
Cillessen; Dumfries, de Ligt, van Dijk, Blind; Wijnaldum, de Roon, Frenkie de Jong; Bergwijn, Depay, Babel.
Subs: Berghuis, van de Beek, Bizot, Ake, Promes, Malen, Strootman, Veltman, van Aanholt, Luuk de Jong, Vermeer, de Vrij.
- Northern Ireland (4-3-3)
Peacock-Farrell; Smith, Cathcart, Jonny Evans, Ferguson; McNair, Davis, Saville; Corry Evans, Lafferty, Dallas.
Subs: Lavery, McGinn, Thompson, Carson, Kennedy, Whyte, Donnelly, Flanagan, Magennis, McGovern, McLaughlin, Boyce.