Amsterdam: Netherlands forward Steven Bergwijn scored just past the hour mark to secure a hard-fought 1-0 win over Poland in their opening Nations League clash on Friday as heavy home pressure finally paid dividends at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
The Dutch, runners-up in last year's inaugural edition of the competition, were playing their first game since the departure of coach Ronald Koeman to Barcelona last month but kept up their crisp performances of the last two years.
Bergwijn tapped the ball home in the 61st minute after a characteristic sweeping move from the Netherlands, playing under interim coach Dwight Lodeweges in their League A Group 1 match. Frenkie de Jongs sweeping ball and Hans Hateboers assist gave Tottenham Hotspur's Bergwijn the simple task of finishing from close range to score his first international goal.
De Jong had hit the upright with the last touch of the first half, after a clever flick over the top of the defence by Memphis Depay. De Jong chested the ball down and swivelled a shot towards goal, only to be denied by the woodwork. There was also a good chance for Depay early in the second half but he was caught unawares when the Polish defence failed to clear an incoming cross.
Poland were missing Robert Lewandowski after the Bayern Munich striker was given time off following Champions League success last month but did see Krzysztof Piatek force a good save out of Jasper Cillessen just past the half hour. His side-footed shot was parried away by the keeper after Poland had split the Dutch defence with a quick counter. But it was their only real chance as the hosts dominated the match.
“Not many of our players had many minutes in the legs but we trained hard this week and worked well and we achieved a very professional performance as a result,” said Dutch captain Virgil van Dijk.
Netherlands next host Italy in Amsterdam on Monday, while Poland visit Bosnia in Zenica.
Bosnia ended Italy's run of 11 successive wins when they held Roberto Mancini's side to a 1-1 draw in Florence. After both teams hit the woodwork early in the second half, Edin Dzeko put the visitors in front when he fired into the roof of the net with a shot on the turn from a corner in the 57th minute. Stefano Sensi equalised 10 minutes later with a deflected shot after Lorenzo Insigne pulled the ball back.