Euro U21 - Netherlands defeat Germany in five-goal thriller

European Under-21 Championship, Group B, Ha Moshava, Petah Tikva - Netherlands 3 (Maher 24, Wijnaldum 38, Fer 90) Germany 2 (Rudy 47 pen, Holtby 81)

Leroy Fer struck late in the game to hand Netherlands a 3-2 win over rivals Germany in the European Under-21 Championship.

The Dutch were two goals up by half-time and an inspired revival from Germany levelled the game after 80 minutes.

But substitute Fer – who failed a medical at Everton in January – was unmarked and converted a corner-kick with a powerful header.

Netherlands fielded a number of key players in the Dutch Eredivisie, including captain Kevin Strootman of PSV Eindhoven and Adam Maher of AZ Alkmaar.

The deft playmaking skills of Maher were too much for a slack German midfield and it was the youngster who found the net first.

After 23 minutes, Maher collected from Ola John at the corner of the penalty box and his rifled shot spun awkwardly in the air and beat Bernd Leno.

Maher’s craft and positivity in possession was the perfect foil for the intelligent play of Gladbach forward Luuk de Jong.

With half an hour gone, Maher slipped a lovely ball in the path of De Jong’s diagonal run behind the German back-four, but he failed to beat Leno.

Seven minutes later, Feyenoord’s Georginio Wijnaldum created and converted a second goal for Netherlands.

Wijnaldum floated in from the right touchline, beating three German challengers, and his initial long-range effort was blocked by Leno, but eventually sneaked over the goal-line.

Hoffenheim’s Sebastian Rudy nearly hit back immediately after the restart with his low, right-foot drive flying wide of the post.

Netherlands could have wrapped up the three points on the stroke of half-time with Ola John failing to complete a slick passing move.

And Germany were riled for the second half, returning to the pitch minutes before their Dutch counterparts.

A minute after the restart, Lewis Holtby burst through from midfield and was brought down by the goalkeeper Zoet inside the box.

Rudy was tasked with finishing the spot-kick – and he duly obliged from 12 yards.

The Dutch kept the same threatening approach whenever they created opportunities, but this was a much hungrier, determined Germany side.

Substitute Kevin Volland brought some quality to the attack and his individual spin, control and powerful shot rocketed against the crossbar.

Volland had passed up a chance from five yards out moments before and another substitute Christian Clemens couldn’t peg the Dutch back

But with 10 minutes to play, Holtby levelled the game with a brilliant solo goal and a neat right-foot finish from 15 yards.

Although the Germans looked more likely to go in-front, the heavy-legged Netherlands held out.

And on 89 minutes, they snatched the winning goal from a set-piece with the bruising physique of Leroy Fer from FC Twente heading home.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Adam Maher (Netherlands) – Central to all of his side’s best moments. Cultured, talented and full of neat touches, the playmaker showed real maturity well beyond his years.

PLAYER RATINGS

NETHERLANDS: Zoet 6, Van Rhijn 6, De Vrij 6, Martins Indi 6, Blind 6, Strootman 7, Maher 9, Van Ginkel 8, Luuk de Jong 7, John 8, Wijnaldum 8 Subs: Josefzoon 5, Depay 5, Fer 7.

GERMANY: Leno 5, Jantschke 6, Thesker 6, Ginter 7, Sorg 6, Rudy 6, Rode 6, Holtby 8, Herrmann 7, Mlapa 5, Lasogga 6 Subs: Volland 7, Clemens 7, Polter 5.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS