Evening all! Sports Mole
's live Euro 2016
qualifying coverage continues from Amsterdam as Netherlands welcome an impressive Iceland for what is a key game in Group A. It is not quite a must-win fixture for the hosts, but it is not too far off. Indeed, victory for Iceland this evening would put eight points between themselves and Netherlands, which would be incredible at this stage of proceedings.
First and foremost, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news...
NETHERLANDS: Cillessen; Van der Wiel, De Vrij, Martins Indi, Blind; Klaassen, Wijnaldum, Sneijder; Depay, Huntelaar, Robben
ICELAND: Halldorsson; Saevarsson, R Sigurdsson, Arnason, Skulason; Bjarnason, G Sigurdsson, Bodvarsson, Gunnarsson; Gudmundsson, Sigthorsson
So there we have it. New head coach Danny Blind's first Netherlands XI includes his son, Manchester United's Daley Blind, at full-back. There is also a spot in the team for United's Memphis Depay, while newly-appointed skipper Arjen Robben will lead his country. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is preferred through the middle to Robin van Persie and Ajax's Davy Klaaseen will win just his third cap.
As for Iceland, Swansea City's Gylfi Sigurdsson
, who scored twice when these two sides met last October, has been selected in midfield. There is also a place for the experienced Aron Gunnarsson, while Kolbeinn Sigthorsson
, who has scored an impressive 17 goals in 29 games for his country, leads the attack. All four members of the Iceland defence have represented their country at least 29 times.
As mentioned, a double from Gylfi Sigurdsson saw Iceland record a 2-0 victory when these two sides met in the reverse match back in October 2014. That is the only time that Iceland have ever beaten Netherlands in an international match, however, with the Oranje winning nine of their 11 matches. The Dutch have also won all five home fixtures – scoring 17 times in the process.
© Getty Images
As it stands, all six teams in Group A have played six matches. Iceland currently top the section on 15 points, two points clear of second-place Czech Republic. Netherlands, meanwhile, are three points behind Czech Republic in third. Turkey, who have eight points, are also not out of the picture in fourth. It is a fascinating group and the importance of tonight's game cannot be downplayed.
Netherlands opened their Group A campaign with a 2-1 defeat in the Czech Republic, before beating Kazakhstan in their next match. Next came a 2-0 defeat in Iceland, but they have, importantly, taken seven points from their last three matches – beating Latvia home and away and drawing 1-1 with Turkey. In terms of what is ahead, they will travel to Turkey on Sunday, before finishing with games away to Kazakhstan and at home to Czech Republic. Some testing games ahead!
Iceland, meanwhile, have lost just once in the group thus far. They beat Turkey, Latvia and Netherlands in their first three games without conceding a single goal, before going down 2-1 in the Czech Republic. They have since won away at Kazakhstan and at home to Czech Republic, however, to move onto 15 points. After tonight's match, they will host Kazakhstan on Sunday, before facing Latvia at home and Turkey away in their last two. It has been a very impressive campaign.
Netherlands, who are unbeaten in 37 home qualifiers since losing 2-0 to Portugal in October 2000, have only ever won one European Championship (1988) and they will be keen to improve on Euro 2012, where they went out in the group stages. They finished third at the 2014 World Cup under Louis van Gaal, however, it would be a major shock if they did not qualify for next summer.
Iceland, meanwhile, have never before qualified for a major international tournament, which has made their performances in qualifying thus far even more impressive. During qualification for Euro 2012, they finished fourth in their particular group having only won one match. This time around has already been a massive improvement, but they still have a lot of work to do if they are to make the Euros.
PREDICTION! On home turf, Netherlands will fancy their chances of recording a vital win, but Iceland's performances in qualifying have shown that they are now a different animal from previous years. I am expecting a very tight match and indeed the points to be shared in a 1-1 draw.
KICK OFF! Here we go then - the national anthems have been completed the flags have been exchanged. It must be said that there is a wonderful atmosphere inside the stadium, with Iceland also very well represented. The home side get the first 45 minutes of action underway...
... as expected, Netherlands have taken control of the possession in the opening couple of minutes, with each member of the back four enjoying touches of the ball. You just get the feeling that the first goal - if there indeed is one - will be vital in tonight's match in Amsterdam.
Sigthorsson is already causing problems to the Dutch defence, with the number nine using his pace and power to drive past Martins Indi down the right. As expected, plenty is happening in terms of challenges and movement as both teams attempt to gain an early foot-hold here.
Depay has the chance to deliver from a wide area for the home side, but the quality of the cross is disappointing and the danger is cleared. Robben finds space down the right moments later, but Arnason is across to clear for a corner. Good pressure from the Dutch in the early exchanges.
Possession football from Netherlands at the moment as they continue to work the ball into wide areas. However, Iceland are nice and tight at the back and have not been troubled thus far.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for Iceland as Gudmundsson delivers a wonderful volleyed cross into Bodvarsson, but the attacker just cannot make contact. Any touch would have meant 1-0!
Half-chance for Netherlands as Robben cuts inside two defenders before curling one towards the top corner, but Halldorsson is on hand to make the save. End-to-end football in Amsterdam.
Iceland continue to deliver from a wide area, but Cillessen has been nice and positive with his catches thus far. In the middle of the park, De Vrij is fortunate to escape a yellow card for a late challenge on Sigurdsson. Still goalless with 12 minutes on the clock in Amsterdam.
Half-chance for Netherlands once again as Memphis delivers a super cross onto the head of Robben, who angles one towards goal, but Skulason is across to make the clearance.
Netherlands again threaten as Huntelaar feeds a pass into Robben, but the Bayern Munich attacker is brought to the ground outside the box. A corner is awarded instead of a free kick, but once again Iceland are on hand to clear their lines. It is a very open game with 16 minutes on the clock.
Netherlands have a free kick in a very dangerous position as Robben is felled by Gunnarsson...
... CLOSE! Robben curls the resulting free kick towards the bottom corner, but it was always moving wide of the post after taking a deflection off Huntelaar. Soft free kick!
The referee has been a busy man in the last couple of minutes as late challenges continue to arrive in the middle of the park. A long throw from Gunnarsson causes problems inside the Dutch box, but Martins Indi manages to clear under aerial pressure. End-to-end football in Amsterdam here.
There must be a yellow card coming in this match as late challenges continue to occur all over the park. A number of players have got away with some poor tackles thus far, that is for certain!
Netherlands remain in control of the possession, but Iceland are causing problems on the counter attack, with Sigthorsson proving a strong target in the final third. You just get the feeling that the first goal - if there indeed is one - will be vital in this fixture. It has been very even thus far.
Depay has seen plenty of the ball in central positions for Netherlands, but Iceland have been excellent in closing the space. Robben, meanwhile, might have a problem here as he pulls up and plays the ball out. That is the last thing that Danny Blind would want at this stage of the match...
... it does appear that Robben will continue, but he does not look comfortable.
Robben's evening is over!
Danny Blind will be forced into a change here as Robben heads down the tunnel after stretching his groin. For the moment, the home side are keeping possession with their 10 men.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for Netherlands as Depay delivers a sensational cross towards Huntelaar, but the striker just cannot make contact! Best chance of the game for the hosts!
NETHERLANDS SUB: Narsingh replaces Robben for the hosts.
The pace has just gone out of the game in the last couple of minutes, with the loss of Robben harming Netherlands. Depay is looking increasingly dangerous, however, down the left.
RED CARD! MARTINS INDI! (NED)
BOOKING! Sigthorsson (Iceland). Martins Indi has been sent off and Sigthorsson has been booked after the two players came together following a sturdy challenge!
Martins Indi threw his forearm into Sigthorsson while both players were on the ground. That is poor from the central defender and he deserved to be sent off. Big task for Netherlands now!
Not a great few minutes for Netherlands - losing their best player and having a key centre-back sent off. Depay creates another opportunity for the home side as he finds space in a wide area before delivering a super cross towards the far post, but once again Huntelaar cannot make contact.
SAVE! Memphis strikes a wonderful free kick towards goal and it causes Halldorsson all sorts of problems, but the Iceland goalkeeper does enough to make the save.
Sigthorsson continues to cause problems for Iceland, with the number nine creating another half-chance with a clever touch, but De Vrij manages to clear. End-to-end football at the moment.
NETHERLANDS SUB: The home side make a second change as Bruma replaces Huntelaar.
The crowd do not like it, but Huntelaar has been sacrificed for a defender. Not a popular decision among the supporters, that is for certain. Little under five minutes of the first period remaining.
Netherlands have a shout for a penalty as Narsingh goes down inside the box under a challenge from Gunnarsson, but it was a super tackle from the Iceland captain. All happening now!
Another half-chance for the home side as Sneijder releases a strike from a wide angle, but Halldorsson is on hand to make the save. Iceland have not capitalised on their extra man yet.
The fourth official indicates that we will play an additional two minutes in Amsterdam.
There is a wonderful noise inside the stadium as we approach the break, with both sets of supporters making their voices heard. It does appear that we will enter the interval level here.
HALF-TIME: Netherlands 0-0 Iceland
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with the two teams level at 0-0. That far from tells the whole story, however, with Netherlands losing their captain to injury, before Martins Indi was sent off. Iceland have also had the best chance of the match thus far, but Bodvarsson could not convert from close range. Plenty has happened in the first half in Amsterdam!
STATS! Netherlands have dominated the possession with 65%, while they have had eight attempts - three of which were on target. Iceland have not actually registered an attempt on target thus far, but have been dangerous in the final third. It has also been a spicy first half in terms of challenges, with Martins Indi sent off and Sigthorsson booked following an off-the-ball incident.
BENCH WATCH! After losing Robben to injury and Martins Indi to a red card, Netherlands have already been forced into two changes here. Only one more can occur and the likes of Luuk de Jong and Robin van Persie will be hoping to feature in the second period. As for Iceland, who have been impressive, they have options in the shape of Bjarnson, Finnbogason and Skulason.
RESTART! Here we go then - both sets of players re-join us on the field for the second 45 minutes. Can Iceland make use of their man advantage? The visitors get the second period underway...
... no changes from either side at the break, which is not too much of a surprise. However, I suspect that the visitors will have some alterations lined up, depending on what develops here. It is a massive second period for Netherlands - defeat would leave them eight points off Iceland.
It has been a strong start to the second period from Iceland, who are starting to threaten in wide areas. Skulason has an attempt after meeting a loose ball outside the box, but his effort is wide.
PENALTY! Iceland are awarded a penalty as Van der Wiel, who is booked, brings Bjarnason to the ground. It was a very clumsy challenge from the full-back.
GOAL! Netherlands 0-1 Iceland (Sigurdsson, pen)
Iceland take the lead in Amsterdam as Sigurdsson's penalty finds the bottom corner. Cillessen did get a right arm to the Swansea City midfielder's effort, but it still found the back of the net!
As it stands, Iceland are moving eight points clear of Netherlands at the top of Group A. Czech Republic are still losing, but this would be a big blow to Netherlands, that is for certain. The home side have a half-chance through Wijnaldum, but his effort was always moving wide of the post.
POST! Iceland come close to making it 2-0 as Gudmundsson curls a wonderful effort towards the bottom corner, but it strikes the post before being cleared! So close to a second!
If Iceland win tonight and win their next match against Kazakhstan then they would qualify for Euro 2016, which would be an outstanding achievement. There is still more than 30 minutes of football to be played this evening, however, and I am sure we have not seen the last of the action.
Possession football from Iceland in the last couple of minutes, which is exactly what they need at this stage of proceedings. It is the away supporters making all of the nose as we approach the hour. Just a reminder that Iceland have never qualified for a major international tournament.
BOOKING! Arnason (Iceland) is booked for an off-the-ball challenge on Memphis.
Two players have been booked for Iceland tonight - Arnason and Sigthorsson - while Van der Wiel had his name taken for Netherlands. The fact that there have only been three yellow cards is a surprise, but Martins Indi was also sent off in the first period. Still 1-0 to the visitors in Amsterdam.
Half-chance for Netherlands as Sneijder finds space outside the box, but his effort was always comfortable for the Iceland goalkeeper. Little over 25 minutes of football remaining tonight.
Netherlands are in control of the possession at the moment and indeed are the team forcing the issue in the final third. Memphis and Van der Wiel both have attempts, but both are wide.
ICELAND SUB: Eidur Gudjohnsen replaces Sigthorsson.
The home side continue to move the ball in the final third, but Iceland are doing a good job of closing the space, which is frustrating the Dutch supporters. You just get the feeling that there is another goal in this game, or at least another major incident. There have been plenty thus far! Narsingh cuts inside before letting fly towards the bottom corner, but his effort is wide of the post.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for Netherlands as a slick passing move leads to Klaassen feeding Narsingh inside the Iceland box, but the attacker's effort is wild and over the crossbar!
SAVES! Cillessen is at his elastic best to deny Gudmundsson twice in quick succession as Netherlands resist pressure from Iceland. Cracking game at the moment here!
Little over 15 minutes of football remaining and Iceland still lead 1-0. As it stands, the visitors would move eight points clear of the Dutch at the top of Group A. Czech Republic, meanwhile, have just equalised at home to Kazakhstan and would move four points clear of the Dutch.
Frustration is creeping into the home side's performance at the moment as Blind is the latest to make a late challenge. Iceland find space outside the box with Gudjohnsen, who finds Gudmundsson, but his effort was always moving over the crossbar. End-to-end football here.
If Czech Republic can find a winner in their match tonight then it would make things even worse for Netherlands, who are in big trouble in Group A as things stand. More frustration for the home side as Klaassen fails to win a corner after a chase with Arnason. Iceland sub on their way...
... ICELAND SUB: Finnbogason replaces Bodvarsson.
CHANCE! Wonderful chance for the home side to level as Narsingh finds space in a wide area before feeding Wijnaldum, but his effort is straight into the arms of the goalkeeper.
BOOKING! Saevarsson (Iceland) is booked for a late challenge on Memphis.
NETHERLANDS SUB: Promes replaces Wijnaldum.
No Robin van Persie tonight then, which is a big surprise! The home side need a goal and they have not turned to the experienced forward, who does not look best pleased on the bench.
SAVE! Sneijder bends one towards the bottom corner, but Halldorsson is across to make the save. The Iceland goalkeeper is then on hand to claim the resulting corner!
Czech Republic have taken the lead against Kazakhstan! Disaster for Netherlands!
Little over five minutes of football remaining and Iceland still lead 1-0 courtesy of that penalty from Sigurdsson early in the second period. Netherlands need some inspiration now!
ICELAND SUB: The skipper Gunnarsson is replaced by O Skulason.
SAVE! Another smart save from Halldorsson as the Iceland goalkeeper gets down to deny Klaassen, who had hammered one towards the bottom corner. Super stop there!
Netherlands continue to pass and probe in the final third, but Iceland are holding on and indeed resisting the pressure. This would be a quite sensational result if the visitors can hold on.
Blind delivers a super cross towards Memphis once again, but once again an Iceland head makes contact and the danger is cleared. We are into the first of three additional minutes here.
As it stands, Netherlands are third in Group A - eight points off Iceland and six points off second-place Czech Republic. The Dutch were fourth, but Latvia have just equalised against Turkey.
Sneijder again fires straight at the Iceland stopper from distance.
Iceland have possession as we approach the final 30 seconds or so.
BOOKING! Sneijder (Netherlands) is booked for a late challenge on O Skulason.
FULL-TIME: Netherlands 0-1 Iceland
Incredible, just incredible. Iceland record a 1-0 win in Amsterdam to move onto 18 points in Group A - eight points clear of Netherlands, who are now third in the section. It was Sigurdsson's penalty early in the second period that proved the difference against the 10-man hosts.
Netherlands still have three games left in Group A, but they are now also six points off second-place Czech Republic, which is incredible. Turkey, meanwhile, are just one point behind the Dutch in fourth position, crikey! Thanks for joining Sports Mole for the action. Until next time!