OSLO – The Netherlands were forced to come from behind to draw 1-1 with Norway in a World Cup qualifier in Oslo on Wednesday (Sept 1), an inauspicious start for new coach Louis van Gaal.
Erling Haaland put the Norwegians ahead after 20 minutes but Davy Klaassen equalised 17 minutes later to earn the Dutch a share of the spoils in an untidy Group G clash at the Ullevaal Stadium.
The result left the Netherlands, who have seven points from four matches, behind Turkey in the standings.
Unbeaten Turkey, held to a 2-2 draw by Montenegro on Wednesday, moved on to eight points while Norway are on seven but behind the Netherlands on goal difference.
Haaland netted his eighth goal in 14 internationals with typically enterprising ability, bringing down an errant clearance with his back to goal and turning to steer the ball home in the 20th minute, despite a despairing tackle from Virgil van Dijk.
The Dutch equalised when Georginio Wijnaldum’s cross from the right wing was steered home by Klaassen after Norway’s defence had failed to clear.
Klaassen had a similar chance on the stroke of half-time and Van Dijk’s header straight afterwards was saved on the line by Norway goalkeeper Andre Hansen.
The Dutch held the upper hand after the break but a Norwegian counter-attack on the hour mark saw captain Martin Odegaard feed Haaland on his left foot and the 21-year-old striker hit the woodwork with a clever effort that sought to catch out Dutch goalkeeper Justin Bijlow, who was making his debut, at the near post.
The Dutch might have won it with the last kick of the match but Denzil Dumfries did not get enough power on to his effort and Hansen was able to keep the ball out.
The Netherlands were hoping for a positive start under the 70-year-old Van Gaal, who has taken on the national team job for a third time but had just two days to work with his side before Wednesday’s qualifier.
He replaces Frank de Boer after a disappointing European Championship where they went out in the last 16 to the Czech Republic.
“It was a very disappointing result in a frustrating match,” said Memphis Depay on Dutch television.
“We didn’t apply enough pressure and lacked creativity.”
The Netherlands are next at home to Montenegro in Eindhoven on Saturday while Norway travel to meet Latvia the same day.