Netherlands, Belgium in low-key friendly draw


Amsterdam (AFP) – The Netherlands and Belgium played out a 1-1 friendly draw Wednesday where Premier League stars Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard struggled and the Dutch suffered injury setbacks ahead of a key World Cup qualifier.

A penalty from Davy Klaassen gave the Dutch a 38th-minute lead from the penalty spot before Yannick Carrasco levelled eight minutes from the final whistle.

It was the 126th meeting between the two neighbours whose fortunes are seemingly headed in different directions.

The Dutch failed to make the finals of Euro 2016 and are labouring in their pursuit of a place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

They are in third spot in their qualifying Group A, three points back from France and Sweden.

Belgium, with former Everton boss Roberto Martinez at the helm, lead Group H with three wins in three outings.

The Dutch face Luxembourg on Sunday in their next qualifier but will be without Jeremain Lens, Klaassen and Stijn Schaars who were all injured on Wednesday.

Belgium go to Estonia, also on Sunday.

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