Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has underlined his desire to keep Donny van de Beek at Manchester United despite a difficult start to his Old Trafford career.

Since arriving from Ajax in a reported £40million deal in pre-season, the Dutchman has made just eight starts in total, with only two of those coming in the Premier League.

That lack of action prompted Van de Beek's boss at international level, Frank de Boer, to suggest this week that the midfielder might need to move on in January in order to strengthen his chances of featuring in the Netherlands' European Championship squad.

However, Solskjaer has reiterated his faith in the 23-year-old and revealed he will be handed a rare opportunity to start when United face Watford in the FA Cup on Saturday.

"I've answered this question so many times," the Norwegian said.

"There are so many examples of players needing a little bit of time – quality players. We have many players ourselves and there are other clubs with examples. Sometimes it takes time. You don't expect people who care for him to be quiet at times, especially when they want the best for them.

"Donny is going to play tomorrow. There's another chance for him. Yes, I've spoken to him and reiterated and made him aware how much we rate him. But he'll play tomorrow, and that's a good chance to kick on."

One player who could be set for a January departure from Old Trafford is Timothy Fosu-Mensah.

The 23-year-old, who is out of contract at the end of the season, has made just three appearances this term, including one start.

And Solskjaer is open to the idea of allowing him to move on should the right offer arrive.

"I'm not sure if Tim is going to stay or [if] he's going to take an option now," he said.

"He's not played enough, so of course he's been allowed to speak to clubs, with a view to leaving now in January. It's difficult when you've got good players, talented players, and you can't give them game time.

"He's now at the stage where he needs to go and play again.

"It might be [at the] end of January, or it might be in the summer that he finds somewhere else. So, he's working hard, Tim, he's ready for a move for any club that he feels ready for."

England will face Robert Lewandowski and Poland in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Gareth Southgate's side have been drawn in Group I, also alongside Hungary, Albania, Andorra and San Marino.

World champions France are in Group D with Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kazakhstan.

The Netherlands headline a tricky Group G, which also includes Turkey, Norway, Montenegro, Latvia and Gibraltar.

Croatia, the beaten finalists two years ago, are in an intriguing Group H with Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta.

Spain will face Sweden, Greece, Georgia and Kosovo in Group B, with Portugal in Group A along with Serbia, the Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan.

Belgium, the world's top-ranked side, face Euro 2016 quarter-final opponents Wales, and Germany will meet Romania and Iceland.

The matches will take place from March to November next year, with the 10 group winners advancing automatically to the finals in Qatar and 10 runners-up heading into the play-offs.

World Cup 2022 UEFA qualifying draw:

Group A
Portugal
Serbia
Republic of Ireland
Luxembourg
Azerbaijan

Group B
Spain
Sweden
Greece
Georgia
Kosovo

Group C
Italy
Switzerland
Northern Ireland
Bulgaria
Lithuania

Group D
France
Ukraine
Finland
Bosnia-Herzegovina
Kazakhstan

Group E
Belgium
Wales
Czech Republic
Belarus
Estonia

Group F
Denmark
Austria
Scotland
Israel
Faroe Islands
Moldova

Group G
Netherlands
Turkey
Norway
Montenegro
Latvia
Gibraltar

Group H
Croatia
Slovakia
Russia
Slovenia
Cyprus
Malta

Group I
England
Poland
Hungary
Albania
Andorra
San Marino

Group J
Germany
Romania
Iceland
North Macedonia
Armenia
Liechtenstein

Georginio Wijnaldum acknowledged there were points where the Netherlands did not look great in the victory against Poland.

The Netherlands came from behind to win 2-1 in Chorzow, but that was not enough to secure a return to the Nations League finals as Italy's 2-0 victory against Bosnia-Herzegovina ensured they finished top of Group A1.

Kamil Jozwiak put Poland in front inside five minutes with an impressive solo goal, but Wijnaldum won a penalty that Memphis Depay converted in the 77th minute and then scored a deflected header to give Oranje a second win in six games under Ronald de Boer.

Poland were a potent threat on the break and match-winner Wijnaldum admitted they made the Netherlands look bad at points, saying the Dutch must improve if they are to do well at Euro 2020.

"I think this was one of our best matches. At the start we weren't sharp and they were able to score early, but otherwise it was good," Wijnaldum told NOS.

"Only in transition can we do better. Sometimes we just don't look good. It's hard to train on it. We don't have much time to practise that sort of thing together between games.

"We have to make these steps as soon as possible if we want to do well at the European Championship.

"We did what we had to do."

Poland's Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski started the match despite being a doubt due to a muscular injury. He assisted Jozwiak's goal and released Przemyslaw Placheta for a shot that hit the post before going off at half-time.

De Boer was disappointed his players did not heed his warning to focus from the off at Silesian Stadium but he was not too disappointed with the performance.

"I saw more positives than negatives," said De Boer.

"I warned the team beforehand that because of all that hassle with Robert Lewandowski over the past few days, I expected Poland would want to show something. You have to be sharp from the first second, but it seemed as though we were not.

"Defensively, it should definitely be better, we are going to work on that. You cannot start like that.

"After 1-0 we picked it up very well and created one chance after another. Then we showed what we can do. We have to work on everything, but I leave with a good feeling.

"It is also a well-deserved victory. They fought for it until the last second and I am proud of that. We have the willpower and have to keep it."

Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum scored as the Netherlands came from behind to beat Poland 2-1, but it was not enough to secure a return to the Nations League Finals.

Both teams needed to win the match at Silesian Stadium and receive some assistance from Bosnia-Herzegovina against Italy in the other Group A1 game, but the Azzurri's 2-0 victory ensured it was they who finished top of the pile.

Kamil Jozwiak's stunning solo goal gave Poland the lead inside five minutes and Przemyslaw Placheta rattled the post as the hosts proved a significant threat on the break.

Poland were punished for sitting back in the second half, though, with Wijnaldum winning a penalty that Depay fired home before the Liverpool man saw his deflected header secure the win in the 84th minute.

Jozwiak put Poland in front when he surged away from Davy Klaassen down the left, cut inside of Daley Blind and stabbed in off the post.

Wijnaldum and Donyell Malen missed decent chances to restore parity before Placheta hared forward on the right and crashed a shot against the near post from an acute angle.

Kamil Glik and centre-back partner Jan Bednarek made important interventions to keep Wijnaldum and Depay at bay, but Lukasz Fabianski was needed to stop Frenkie de Jong equalising before half-time.

Krzysztof Piatek replaced Robert Lewandowski, who had been a doubt for the game with a muscular problem, at half-time and he was involved in a rapid break that ended with Placheta shanking wide.

Poland focused on defending and Fabianski did well to tip the Netherlands' first shot on target of the second half from Depay away from the bottom-right corner.

However, Fabianski was beaten by Depay from 12 yards in the 77th minute after Bednarek pushed Wijnaldum over in the area.

Wijnaldum completed the turnaround himself by flicking substitute Steven Berghuis' corner home, but it was only enough to secure second place in the group.

Frank de Boer was happy to end his wait for a first win as coach of the Netherlands in a 3-1 Nations League victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina.

After replacing Ronald Koeman at the helm, De Boer went four games without a win prior to Sunday's success in Amsterdam.

Georginio Wijnaldum became the first player since Tonny van der Linden in 1961 to score twice in the first 13 minutes of a game for the Netherlands before Memphis Depay made it 3-0, De Boer's men denied a clean sheet by Smail Prevljak.

De Boer was pleased to end his wait for a win, with his side a point behind Italy with one game left to play in Group A1.

"Of course you are waiting for that first victory," he said.

"But we had two interests today. Staying in the race for the final round of the Nations League and we are now in the World Cup qualifying in pot one. That is nice. Pot two also contains good countries, but now we are certainly avoiding the very strong countries."

Wijnaldum's brace gave the Netherlands a dream start before Depay scored his first international goal in 538 minutes of play and after attempting 21 consecutive shots without finding the back of the net.

De Boer said his team had focused on making a fast start, and he was glad it paid off.

"As staff we indicated that we had to give full throttle for the first 20-25 minutes and make a difference," he said.

"This can be done by keeping the pace high. We did a fantastic job."

While pleased with the start, Liverpool midfielder Wijnaldum rued the way the Netherlands finished the encounter.

"We were ready for a victory," he told NOS.

"We started well in the first half, but we got a bit sloppier at the end. Maybe we wanted to attack too much, which made the spaces bigger. In the second half it also got a bit sloppier."

The Netherlands wrap up their Group A1 campaign away to Poland on Wednesday.

Frank de Boer got his first win as Netherlands head coach as two goals from Georginio Wijnaldum led them to a 3-1 Nations League victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina.

A friendly loss to Mexico and three consecutive draws, most recently against Spain on Friday, amounted to an inauspicious start for Ronald Koeman's successor with Oranje.

Things were looking up when Liverpool's Wijnaldum scored twice inside the first 13 minutes at Johan Cruijff ArenA on Sunday, and a further strike from Memphis Depay made certain of the victory.

Smail Prevljak pulled a goal back for Bosnia-Herzegovina but the Netherlands fully deserved the three points that kept their hopes of finishing top of their group alive.

Wijnaldum broke through in the sixth minute in when he converted from Denzel Dumfries' pass after a fine move involving Depay.

Miralem Pjanic blasted over from a promising position and Bosnia-Herzegovina were promptly punished, Wijnaldum turning in his second goal after Steven Berghuis nodded Memphis Depay's cross back across the box.

It should have been 3-0 when Luuk de Jong tapped in from Berghuis' cut-back but the assistant referee incorrectly raised his flag for offside, with no VAR present to correct the call.

Goalkeeper Ibrahim Secic kept Bosnia-Herzegovina in the contest early in the second half, denying Berghuis after good work from Depay and then saving low to keep out the Lyon man's strike.

He could do nothing to stop Depay from making it 3-0 in the 55th minute, though, the forward tapping in a simple finish after Dumfries charged through a challenge from Sead Kolasinac.

Prevljak got a goal back with his first touch, firing low past Tim Krul with his team's first shot on target after 63 minutes of play.

 

What does it mean? Oranje still alive in Finals pursuit

The result puts Netherlands top of Group A1, a point above Poland and two ahead of Italy, having played a game more than each.

Depending on the result between those sides later on Sunday, De Boer's men could head into Wednesday's final round knowing a win would see them qualify for the Finals.

Bosnia-Herzegovina's defeat means they will be relegated to League B.

Klaassen keeps control

Depay and Wijnaldum were superb in attack but particular praise must go to Davy Klaassen on his first international appearance for three years.

The Ajax midfielder regained possession 10 times, won three tackles and misplaced just two of his 60 passes as he dictated the Dutch play from deep.

Gojak sums up listless showing

The Netherlands got in far too easily down either wing as the visiting full-backs were left consistently exposed, but at least Edin Visca offered some attacking output down the Bosnia-Herzegovina right.

On the opposite flank, Amer Gojak managed just 20 passes and a single cross in 62 minutes, and failed to make a tackle or interception.

What's next?

Netherlands conclude their Group A1 campaign against Poland in Chorzow, while Bosnia-Herzegovina host Italy in Sarajevo. Both of those matches are on Wednesday.

Memphis Depay has talked up his transfer link with Barcelona, acknowledging any player would want to play for the Catalan giants.

Speculation around Barca's interest in the Lyon forward has been particularly strong since Depay's former Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman arrived as the club's new coach in August.

Depay remained with Lyon when the transfer window closed in early October, but his contract expires next year.

While Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has insisted he will not sanction a deal in January, as he is not prepared to miss out on European football for a second successive season, Barca may opt to test his resolve as the Ligue 1 side face missing out on a transfer fee.

Failing to earn a move to Barca for this season does not appear to have impacted Depay negatively, however – he has been involved in eight goals (five scored, three assists) in Ligue 1 this term, a figure only Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe can match (seven goals, four assists), while he is level with Leo Dubois for the most goalscoring chances created (27).

Depay continues to stress his focus is on Lyon and the Netherlands, though he did not shy away from a desire to play for Barca.

"Who wouldn't like to go to Barcelona? It's a top club," he said after wearing the captain's armband in the second half of the Oranje's 1-1 draw with Spain on Wednesday.

"We'll see what the future holds for me. Barca is one of the biggest clubs and everyone would like to play there, but I'm focused on my club and the national team."

With regards to whether a January move is an option, despite Aulas' recent comments, Depay added: "I don't know. The transfer window is not open.

"I don't have the focus on that at the moment. I am training well and focusing on being a better player. There is a lot of speculation, but my head is not there at the moment."

Depay's last venture at one of Europe's elite, Manchester United, did not go as expected, the forward struggling to adapt.

He was eventually sold to Lyon in January 2017, and it is fair to say he has rediscovered the form that made him one of Europe's most promising young players at PSV.

Depay has set up 35 league goals since his Lyon debut on January 22, 2017, level with Angel Di Maria for the most in Ligue 1 in that time.

Similarly, Mbappe (110) is the only player to have been involved in more goals than Depay (83) across the same period.

Georginio Wijnaldum is honoured to have captained the Netherlands in their 1-1 draw with Spain but said he has mixed feelings due to the absence of close friend Virgil van Dijk.

Wijnaldum took over the captain's armband for Wednesday's friendly from injured Liverpool and Netherlands team-mate Van Dijk, who is likely to be out for the rest of the season after sustaining significant damage to his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) last month.

Stand-in skipper Wijnaldum played 45 minutes in Amsterdam – the upcoming Nations League fixtures against Poland and Ukraine taking priority, and revealed after the match he had been in close contact with Van Dijk ahead of kick-off.

"Of course it is great to represent your country in this way," said Wijnaldum, who celebrated his 30th birthday on Wednesday. "But I would have preferred for Van Dijk to have been here. Then he would have been the captain instead.

"He makes our team stronger and is still very involved with us. I had him on the phone before the game - we talked about my birthday. But I'll call him again shortly."

Donny van de Beek scored his second international goal in as many games early in the second half to earn the Netherlands a draw against a second-string Spain side.

Sergio Canales had earlier given Spain the lead with his maiden goal for the national side and Netherlands head coach Frank de Boer was unhappy with his team's defending in the first half.

"We forgot to cover properly," he said. "I told them about that at the break and we improved on it. The game turned when De Beek and [Luuk] de Jong put their opponents under more pressure, more quickly."

De Boer is winless in four matches since replacing Ronald Koeman as coach but is hopeful that run will come to an end in Sunday's home match against Bosnia-Herzegovina.

"Of course I would have liked to have won the game," he said. "Let's go and do that against Bosnia."

Owen Wijndal, 20, was the standout player for the Netherlands on what was just his second senior outing.

The left-back managed more tackles (three) than any home player while nobody turned over possession more times (seven) and intercepted the ball (twice) more often.

"He was fantastic," De Boer said. "He made a very good impression today. He has done a fantastic job and was a lot better than on his debut against Mexico."

Luis Enrique hailed "unique" Sergio Ramos after the Spain captain equalled Italy great Gianluigi Buffon's European caps record in Wednesday's 1-1 draw with the Netherlands.

Ramos was brought on five minutes from time at the Johan Cruijff ArenA for his 176th international appearance, some 15 years after making his senior debut.

The Real Madrid centre-back can overtake Buffon as Europe's most-capped international footballer should he feature against Switzerland in Basel on Saturday.

He is also within eight appearances of the worldwide caps record, which is currently held by former Egypt midfielder Ahmed Hassan.

Spain head coach Luis Enrique praised Ramos for matching Buffon's tally.

"Sergio is unique. He is on a different level," he said after the match. "The appearance record is only within the reach of those who are very gifted."

Luis Enrique fielded an experimental XI that included debutant goalkeeper Unai Simon, plus returning quartet Koke, Alvaro Morata, Hector Bellerin and Marco Asensio.

Morata set up Sergio Canales for Spain's 18th-minute opener - the ninth goal the Juventus striker has been directly involved in in nine games for club and country this term.

"Alvaro has been very good but it is the same as we have seen these months at Juve," Luis Enrique said. "We caused problems for them with him in attack."

Koke also impressed in Amsterdam as he attempted more passes in the opposition half (29) and produced more tackles (four) than any other player on the field.

Asked about the Atletico Madrid midfielder's display, Luis Enrique said: "He is a player who gives us total guarantee that he will perform at a very high level. He did very well, exactly what I asked of him, and has the personality to play there."

Spain have won only two of their six matches this calendar year but Luis Enrique insisted he is happy with where his side are at ahead of key Nations League games with Switzerland and Germany over the next week.

"I have a good feeling because this was a complicated game for us," he said. "We had some good phases, although in the second half we became a little bit more disorganised.

"But in general I am satisfied with my side, who showed a good attitude. We had a plan in place to bring in some fresh player ahead of the two competitive matches. I am more than satisfied with what I have seen."

Donny van de Beek made it two goals in as many games for the Netherlands as he cancelled out Sergio Canales' maiden strike for Spain in Wednesday's 1-1 friendly draw.

The Netherlands were seeking their first win in four attempts under Frank de Boer but got off to a bad start at the Johan Cruijff ArenA.

Alvaro Morata marked his return to the Spain side with an assist for Canales' well-taken opener but Van de Beek added to his goal against Italy last month to level matters. 

Memphis Depay should have won the game for De Boer's men in a second half that saw Sergio Ramos come on to earn his 176th Spain cap and equal the European record held by Italian great Gianluigi Buffon.

The hosts were already without captain Virgil van Dijk and lost fellow centre-back Nathan Ake to an apparent hamstring injury inside the opening six minutes.

That stoppage did little to halt Spain's flow and they took the lead through Canales' calm finish past Marco Bizot after being played in by in-form striker Morata.

Luuk de Jong had a weak penalty appeal rejected and then tested debutant Unai Simon, while Bizot was equal to Morata's edge-of-the-box effort at the opposite end.

But Van de Beek drew the Netherlands level 105 seconds into the second half as he ghosted in to meet Owen Wijndal's left-sided cross and drilled the ball home.

Koke, another Spain player brought in from the cold to captain the side, volleyed over a glorious chance on the hour mark and Hector Bellerin's low drive was pushed to safety.

An even bigger chance fell the way of Depay, who had time to get the ball out of his feet in the Spain box but could not squeeze the shot past Simon.

Ramos was brought on in the final stages for his landmark cap but the game ultimately petered out.

Ajax midfielder Ryan Gravenberch has been handed a first call-up to the Netherlands squad.

Gravenberch was promoted from the Under-21 squad after Tonny Vilhena was ruled out of the upcoming internationals due to a positive coronavirus test.

The 18-year-old will not be in the squad for Wednesday's friendly against Spain but could earn his maiden cap in the Nations League against Bosnia-Herzegovina or Poland.

Head coach Ronald de Boer will consequently have 24 players available to him for the crunch Nations League fixtures on Sunday and Wednesday.

Gravenberch has featured six times in the Eredivisie this season and supplied two assists. He is also the second-youngest player yet to miss a minute of action in the 2020-21 Champions League, after Illia Zabarnyi of Dynamo Kiev.

Only Dusan Tadic (71) and Daley Blind (68) have completed more passes in the opposition half for Ajax in their Group D campaign than Gravenberch (62), who was won more duels in the competition that any of his team-mates (21).

Spain head coach Luis Enrique backed Barcelona sensation Ansu Fati to pick up from where he left off once he has recovered from a knee injury.

Fati will spend four months on the sidelines after undergoing surgery on a tear to the internal meniscus of his left knee – an injury sustained in Saturday's 5-2 LaLiga win over Real Betis

The 18-year-old has been in great form for Barca this term, scoring five goals and assisting two more in 10 appearances in all competitions.

Among a number of other records, he became the youngest ever scorer for Spain with his goal against Ukraine in September.

That was one of four caps earned under Luis Enrique and the former Barcelona coach is confident the teenage attacker will find his best form once he returns to action.

"Regardless of how old you are, injuries are part of football," Luis Enrique said at a news conference ahead of Wednesday's friendly with the Netherlands. 

"It is a sad moment but he will overcome it. He will be the old Ansu again."

Fati's absence could give the likes of Alvaro Morata and Marcos Llorente a chance to shine in attack against the Netherlands.

Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke is back involved for the first time in over two years, while team-mate Llorente is in line for his maiden cap this international window.

"Morata is here because he has the confidence of his coach. He has a strong profile," Luis Enrique said.

"Llorente is almost already playing as a forward at Atletico now as the second striker. 

"The normal thing is to change your position, becoming deeper in your role, but with Llorente it is the other way around."

Spain enter the midweek friendly in Amsterdam on the back of a surprise 1-0 Nations League loss to Ukraine last month.

La Roja have won only two of their five matches this calendar year but Luis Enrique insisted all that matters is that his side peak in time for next year's rescheduled Euro 2020 finals.

"These games will help us to see all the players," he said. "But after playing these three games we still won't know what we have for the European Championships. 

"That will be seen in the tournament itself, where we can do very well. We'll see. I like what I see. You have to be optimistic and positive. Spain's real level will be seen at the Euros."

Davy Klaassen has been recalled to the Netherlands squad for their three upcoming internationals.

MIdfielder Klaassen has not played for his country since October 2017 but has been included for a friendly against Spain before Nations League matches versus Bosnia-Herzegovina and Poland, after impressing on his return to Ajax.

He rejoined the Amsterdam giants, with whom he began his career, after spells away at Everton and Werder Bremen.

Krasnodar midfielder Tonny Vilhena and Crystal Palace left-back Patrick van Aanholt have also been included by coach Frank de Boer, who is awaiting a first win since replacing Ronald Koeman.

Marseille midfielder Kevin Strootman and Atalanta's Marten de Roon are among the players absent.

Spain visit the Johan Cruyff ArenA next Wednesday and Bosnia-Herzegovina face the Oranje in Amsterdam four days later before De Boer's men take on Poland in Chorzow on November 18.

The Netherlands are third in Group A1 with just one victory from four Nations League matches.

Netherlands squad: 

Marco Bizot (AZ), Jasper Cillessen (Valencia), Tim Krul (Norwich City); Nathan Ake (Manchester City), Daley Blind (Ajax), Stefan de Vrij (Inter), Hans Hateboer (Atalanta), Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace), Owen Wijndal (AZ); Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Mohamed Ihattaren (PSV), Davy Klaassen (Ajax), Teun Koopmeiners (AZ), Donny van de Beek (Manchester United), Joel Veltman (Brighton and Hove Albion), Tonny Vilhena (Krasnodar), Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool), Ryan Babel (Galatasaray), Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord), Steven Bergwijn (Tottenham), Calvin Stengs (AZ); Memphis Depay (Lyon), Luuk de Jong (Sevilla), Donyell Malen (PSV), Quincy Promes (Ajax).

Frank de Boer decided to change the Netherlands' system for their Nations League game against Italy after one training session because they looked like "young hyenas".

Italy won the first meeting of the Group A1 rivals in Amsterdam in September 1-0, with interim boss Dwight Lodeweges deploying a 4-2-3-1 on that occasion.

After beginning his Netherlands tenure with a surprise 1-0 loss to Mexico and a goalless draw with Bosnia-Herzegovina, De Boer switched to a 5-3-2 for the meeting in Bergamo in a bid to limit the impact of Italy's attacking full-backs.

Oranje fell behind to Lorenzo Pellegrini's goal in the 16th minute but quickly drew level when Donny van de Beek opened his international account.

Though the Netherlands were unable to find a winner, De Boer knew his team were ready for the new approach after a promising dry run.

"I wanted to play with five at the back so that my forwards didn't have to keep chasing back with their overlapping players," De Boer told NOS.

"Basically, it's just a question of looking very rationally at the opponent and working out what we can offer in return. In this case it meant sacrificing a player like Steven [Berghuis].

"I thought we had the better of the game, say 60 to 40 per cent in our favour, and that was because of our own quality.

"The critics would have been harsh [if the Netherlands lost], but in training I saw how the players chased their prey like young hyenas. I told them: 'If we show this in the game, it shouldn't be a problem.'

"But I am not satisfied with the result, because we want to be top of the group. Now we have to make sure we win the last two games."

The draw meant Poland moved top of Group A1 following a 3-0 victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina, with Italy a point behind and the Netherlands two adrift.

Oranje captain Virgil van Dijk felt the visitors should have done more with their 14 attempts on goal – twice the amount mustered by Italy.

"The coach handled it well. All credit to him for that," said Van Dijk of the change in formation.

"We knew we had to do things differently to the first game. We wanted to get a result and I think a draw here is a good performance to build on.

"We did well and worked hard but we should have got more out of the counter-attack in the second half.

"We created a lot of opportunities against a fantastic team. We could have done more."

Italy extended their unbeaten run in competitive fixtures to 16 – one shy of their all-time record set between June 1997 and June 1999.

Roberto Mancini admitted he was caught off guard by the Netherlands' tactical shift but still has designs on a place in the Nations League Finals.

"It's the first time they changed to this system and it was a surprise, but we knew it was going to be a tough game," Mancini told Rai Sport.

"Opponents are there too, they can create problems and that's what happened this evening. We attacked and I think we created the most clear-cut opportunities, overall.

"The performance was tough, it was a good game, a real battle. Now we go head-to-head with Poland for the top spot. We'll win the next two and then qualify."

Donny van de Beek scored his first Netherlands goal in a 1-1 draw with Italy that saw both teams lose ground to Poland in Nations League Group A1.

Lorenzo Pellegrini polished off a lovely move to put Italy in front in Bergamo on Wednesday, before Manchester United midfielder Van de Beek opened his international account in his 14th cap.

Neither side was unable to find a winner in the second half, with Roberto Mancini's men extending their unbeaten run to 19 games – 16 in competitive matches – and denying Frank de Boer a first victory in charge of the Netherlands.

Poland now sit in pole position to advance to the Nations League Finals following a 3-0 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina, piling the pressure on Italy and the Netherlands.

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