Geneva, Switzerland | AFP | Ronald Koeman claimed his first win in charge of the Netherlands national team as the Dutch cruised to a comfortable 3-0 friendly victory over an uninspired Portugal in Geneva on Monday.
The three-time World Cup runners-up have failed to qualify for this year’s finals in Russia, but Koeman’s second game at the helm saw goals from Memphis Depay, Ryan Babel and Virgil van Dijk seal an impressive win.
It was a disappointing evening for European champions Portugal ahead of the World Cup, as talisman Cristiano Ronaldo cut an isolated figure just three days after his late brace had seen off Egypt 2-1.
Een mooie overwinning die vertrouwen geeft! Tevreden over de uitvoering, discipline en werklust gisteravond ?? #NedPor
A good victory that gives us confidence! I am happy with our performance, discipline and work ethic in yesterday’s game ?? #DuchLions pic.twitter.com/3ntEOSzicG
— Ronald Koeman (@RonaldKoeman) March 27, 2018
“They had four chances and scored three times, they deserved their victory,” said Portugal coach Fernando Santos.
“Two years ago, before the Euros, we lost at home against Bulgaria. I don’t think we have lost confidence, I still believe in these players for the future.”
The Netherlands, who lost 1-0 to England in Amsterdam on Friday, opened the scoring in the 11th minute as Depay grabbed the first goal of the Koeman era by turning home from inside the box.
That strike came against the run of play as Portugal had dominated the early stages against an unusual 5-3-2 formation deployed by the Dutch.
“We decided to play with a system totally different from the one that the team has been using for a number of years,” said former Everton boss Koeman.
“The difference between tonight and last Friday is that we were more comfortable and scored quickly. The team had confidence.
“It felt good with the new system and results like tonight make things easier.”
Ronaldo was left incensed after his appeals for a penalty were waved away, despite replays appearing to show him kick the ground when attempting to shoot.
— LFC India (@LFCIndia) March 27, 2018
– Kluivert debut –
But the Netherlands doubled their lead just after the half-hour mark as Ryan Babel headed in Matthijs de Ligt’s driven cross from close range.
The goal continued the Besiktas winger’s return to form, having only been recalled to the Dutch squad last year after a six-year absence.
Things went from bad to worse for Portugal on the stroke of half-time, as De Ligt nodded down for Liverpool centre-back Van Dijk to volley into the far corner to score his first international goal.