Brussels, Oct 17 (IANS) Belgium and the Netherlands drew 1-1 in a friendly football match between the third-place finishers at the 2018 World Cup and a visiting side that failed to qualify for the tournament.
The hosts, in Roberto Martinez’s 31st match as Belgium coach, felt at home on the field during the first half of Tuesday’s game, in which both managers strove to give playing time to subs and avoid risk, reports Efe.
Dries Mertens, with an assist from Eden Hazard, gave Belgium the lead in the 4th minute in front of roughly 33,000 spectators at King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, while Arnaut Groeneveld equalised for the Dutch in the 27th.
The Belgians dominated the match for most of the night, but fell short of winning the bout against a side that, on paper, was poised to lose.
The Netherlands — with only some 750 fans on the bleachers — seemed to settle for a tie in the first match between the two squads since 2016.
Both teams began to pick up the pace in the last 15 minutes of the game, but failed to net any additional goals.
The match marked the two teams’ 31st draw.
The Dutch have beaten their neighbours 55 times, while the Belgians have 41 wins in the series.