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Netherlands still goalless under De Boer, after Bosnia stalemate

Netherlands still goalless under De Boer, after Bosnia stalemate

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Frank de Boer is still waiting for his first goal since taking charge of the Netherlands after his side laboured to a 0-0 Nations League draw with Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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Having started his reign with a disappointing 1-0 loss to Mexico in Amsterdam, De Boer – appointed after Ronald Koeman’s departure to take charge at Barcelona – saw the Netherlands dominate possession and territory in Zenica.

However, they lacked a cutting edge as Bosnia-Herzegovina – knocked out of the Euro 2020 play-offs on penalties by Northern Ireland on Thursday – stood firm to earn a point from the Group A1 clash.

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Luuk de Jong – selected in place of the suspended Memphis Depay – came close to a breakthrough, his downward header forcing a superb save from goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic, while Ryan Babel spurned a glorious opportunity in added time.

A draw was hardly a surprise, though. Neither team had managed an attempt on target in a first half that saw plenty of intent but a distinct lack of quality, with the action barely improving after the interval.

Stefan de Vrij wastefully headed wide from an early free-kick, though the defender make an important impact in his own penalty area later on, producing a well-timed challenge to block Amer Gojak’s attempt.

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The Netherlands pinned their opponents in deep for long periods, yet Bosnia-Herzegovina looked the more likely to make a breakthrough as the minutes ticked by.

Edin Dzeko’s introduction from the bench made a difference, his run and square pass allowing Miralem Pjanic to take aim with a firm drive that finally forced goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen into a save in the 69th minute.

At the other end, Sehic reacted smartly to prevent Frenkie de Jong’s effort, then showed great agility to keep out namesake Luuk from the resulting corner.

The home keeper should have been beaten in the closing stages, though, when a loose ball fell kindly to Babel in the area, only for the substitute to rather sum up the performance by wastefully shooting wide.

Vanguard

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