Memphis Depay underlined his importance to the Netherlands with both goals as Frank de Boer’s side twice fought back to secure a 2-2 draw against shorthanded Scotland.
Kevin Nisbet’s first international goal appeared to have Scotland – without seven players following a positive coronavirus case within the squad – on course for a first victory over the Dutch since November 2003, only for Depay to curl in a free-kick and level the game.
The influential Netherlands forward had earlier cancelled out Jack Hendry’s long-range opener as two nations preparing for the upcoming Euro 2020 tournament could not be separated after 90 minutes in Faro.
Hendry had broken the deadlock in spectacular fashion in the 11th minute, the centre-back drilling in a low, right-footed shot from just outside the penalty area, punishing the Netherlands as an attempt to play out from a goal kick led to a costly turnover.
However, after Lyndon Dykes was denied by Tim Krul, the Netherlands responded with an eye-catching strike of their own.
Picked out with a long pass after making a forward run into the penalty area, Georginio Wijnaldum headed the ball down into the path of supporting team-mate Depay, who sent a left-footed volley beyond Craig Gordon.
Wijnaldum did not feature for too much longer after his assist – De Boer replaced both his captain and also fellow midfielder Frenkie de Jong in the 31st minute. Substitutions became a common theme in the second half too, including the introduction of Nisbet.
The forward wasted little time in making an impact on proceedings after replacing Dykes, providing the finishing touch when picked out by Andy Robertson’s inviting cross from Scotland’s left flank.
Gordon denied Patrick van Aanholt to preserve the slender advantage, but there was nothing the goalkeeper could do with Depay’s set-piece strike in the 89th minute.
What does it mean? Scotland overcome absences to impress
After midfielder John Fleck tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, health and safety protocols left Scotland coach Steve Clarke with a lack of numbers to fill out the bench. David Marshall, Grant Hanley, John McGinn, Che Adams, Stephen O’Donnell and Nathan Patterson had all remained at the team’s training base in Spain, a concerning situation with the nation’s European Championship opener against the Czech Republic coming up on June 14.
Still, with so many absent, Scotland performed superbly. Clarke has now seen his side beaten in just two of their 16 games since losing four out of his first five in charge.
Depay netted the decisive goal when the Netherlands triumphed in the previous meeting of the nations in November 2017, and he was once again pivotal to proceedings.
The forward – strongly rumoured to be joining Barcelona once his contract with Lyon expires – now has 29 goal involvements in his past 24 international appearances (16 goals, 13 assists).
Dutch delight not on the cards
The Netherlands have now won just one of their past seven international friendly matches, a 2-1 triumph over Peru in September 2018 coming under previous head coach Ronald Koeman.
De Boer will be pleased his team hit back at the end to spare him from greater criticism, though it was debatable if a foul should have been awarded on Depay for the free-kick he would end up converting.
– Scotland ended a run of four straight defeats in games against the Netherlands, while their two goals were as many as they had scored in their most recent 11 meetings with the Dutch beforehand.
– The Netherlands have scored two or more goals in each of their last six matches in all competitions (18 goals in total).
– Scotland have drawn three of their last four matches (W1), this after having only drawn three of their previous 29 in all competitions (W12 D3 L14).
– Scotland have won just one of their last 11 friendly matches (D2 L8), winning none of their last five such games (D1 L4).
– Netherlands forward Depay has been directly involved in 29 goals in his last 25 appearances for his country (16 goals, 13 assists).
The Netherlands complete their Euro 2020 preparations with a friendly against Georgia, while Scotland take on Luxembourg. Both of those fixtures take place on Sunday.
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