Belgium suffered an ugly derby loss in their Nations League debut on Friday, falling 4-1 to the Netherlands in Brussels.
For Roberto Martinez’s side, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard led the line but were unproductive from the outset, with the Chelsea player forced off hurt after 25 minutes and Hazard replaced at halftime following his first start since January.
Tottenham winger Steven Bergwijn was given a starting spot in the Dutch attack and returned Louis van Gaal’s confidence with a magnificent first-half goal from beyond the box.
The Netherlands dominated for long stretches of the first half, except for a shot against the post by Timothy Castagne with the score still tied, but the Dutch dominance continued after the interval.
Memphis Depay raced clear and buried the second goal only seconds into the second half, capitalizing on a Dedryck Boyata mistake.
On 62 minutes, Daley Blind collected a rebound from Simon Mignolet’s block and cleverly crossed for Denzel Dumfries to bundle in at the far post.
It just took a few more seconds for Depay to break the line again and hammer home his second.
Boos rang around King Baudouin Stadium, and Belgium was denied a consolation goal when Michy Batshuayi was flagged offside before Castagne scored, with VAR siding with the hosts after saving a bad call to award a penalty against the Leicester man for handball – when it had actually hit his face.
Michy Batshuayi added a late consolation, but the final whistle signaled not only a disastrous start to Belgium’s Nations League campaign but also the first Dutch victory against their neighbors since 1997.