AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Nov 11 – Frank de Boer’s wait for a first win as Netherlands coach goes on after his team drew 1-1 with Spain in a friendly in Amsterdam on Wednesday.
De Boer has now gone four matches without a victory since being appointed in September to succeed Ronald Koeman, who left to take over at Barcelona.
But Donny van de Beek’s equaliser shortly after half-time ensured the Dutch at least avoided defeat at the Johan Cruyff Arena after Spain had taken an early lead through Sergio Canales.
A draw was probably a fair reflection of two teams who seem highly capable in possession but lack punch in the final third or a genuine threat up front.
“Scoring goals is the most complicated thing in football,” said Spain coach Luis Enrique. “We have good players and good strikers. Goals will come, I’m not worried.”
The debate around the hectic calendar was given further ammunition too after Manchester City’s Nathan Ake went off after five minutes with what looked like an hamstring injury.
Valencia’s Jose Luis Gaya was also forced off, albeit for a cut above his left eye rather than a muscle problem.
Sergio Ramos came on in the second half to earn his 176th cap, equalling Gianluigi Buffon’s record for international appearances by a European player.
The Netherlands and Spain will perhaps be among the second band of favourites at the postponed European Championship next summer, when they will be hoping some talented youngsters come of age.
Yet each were in need of a victory to make amends here after Spain were beaten 1-0 by Ukraine last month while the ‘Oranje’ had started out under De Boer with two defeats and two draws.
De Boer’s side sit third in their Nations League group while Spain are better placed, sitting top but with only one point more than Germany and Ukraine behind them.
The first half was tight, with neither team able to take charge and only Canales’ strike in the 18th minute, his first international goal, to separate them.
Canales did well to finish from a difficult angle into the corner but he owed much to the driving run of Alvaro Morata, who had driven forward and picked out an excellent pass.
The Dutch were level early in the second period, capitalising on some slack Spain defending. Owen Wijndal’s cross from the left was allowed to bypass two Dutch targets before bouncing through to the back post, where an unmarked Van de Beek finished.
The Netherlands had the best openings to win it but Spain’s Unai Simon marked his debut in goal with a strong stop to deny Memphis Depay and then stayed on his feet in front of Luuk de Jong, who dithered and the chance was gone.