Netherlands vs England: Top 5 most memorable meetings

Ahead of their Euro 2024 semi-final at Westfalenstadion on Wednesday, we look back at England and Netherlands' top 5 most memorable meetings, including games from Euro '96, Euro '88, Italia '90 and the Nations League Finals.
Netherlands v England - UEFA Nations League Semi-Final
Netherlands v England - UEFA Nations League Semi-Final / Gualter Fatia/GettyImages

On Wednesday night at Westfalenstadion, Netherlands and England will go head-to-head for a place in the European Championships Final. Oranje won this competition back in 1988, while the Three Lions were beaten finalists three summers ago so, ahead of this huge clash in Dortmund, we look back at the five most memorable meetings between these two heavyweights.

5) England 0-0 Netherlands: World Cup 1990

Des Walker of England is tackled by Hans Gilhaus of Holland
Des Walker of England is tackled by Hans Gilhaus of Holland / Inpho Photography/GettyImages

We're going to be upfront about this, the goalless draw these two served up at Italia '90 does not belong on a listicle entitled 'most memorable', as there was very little memorable about the game at Stadio Sant'Elia, but we have brought it up for a good reason, stay with us. This was very in keeping with how the rest of Group F at that summer's World Cup went, with just seven goals scored across the six matches, the same number as England's group this summer, with this match followed by a goalless draw by Republic of Ireland and Egypt the following day.

This is noteworthy for two reasons, firstly the fact it's the only time England have met Holland at the World Cup, but also it is pertinent for modern-day. That summer, Sir Bobby Robson's side topped their group despite plenty of criticism back home, with their group phase results 1-1, 0-0 and 1-0, just like Gareth Southgate's team this summer. The Three Lions then required extra time to oust both Belgium and Cameroon, reaching a first semi-final for 22 years, before a heartbreaking shootout defeat to West Germany at Stadio delle Alpi.

Of course, this current England team will be seeking to avoid a repeat of that, but parallels can certainly be drawn between Italia '90 and Euro 2024, emphasising it's not how you start but how you finish.

4) Netherlands 2-0 England: World Cup qualifier 1993

HOLLAND V ENGLAND / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

These days, it's unthinkable that a World Cup would take place without England present, but USA '94 is the last time this was the case, and the Dutch were responsible. During the qualification campaign, the pair played out a 2-2 draw at Wembley, in which Netherlands fought back from 2-0 down to draw, before Graham Taylor's team were beaten 2-0 in Oslo by the group's surprise package Norway, leaving their hopes hanging by a thread.

So, traveling to De Kuip in October 1993, England simply had to win, or they would not be heading stateside the following summer. That night, in a raucous Rotterdam, it was Holland who prevailed 2-0, with current head coach Ronald Koeman breaking the deadlock, before a young Dennis Bergkamp secured the victory late on. This is one of the darkest days in England's modern-history, so will Koeman be responsible for another devastating England defeat in Dortmund on Wednesday?

3) England 1-3 Netherlands: UEFA Nations League semi-final 2019

UEFA Nations League"The Netherlands v England"
UEFA Nations League"The Netherlands v England" / VI-Images/GettyImages

These two nations have only met on 22 occasions since first doing so at the Olympisch Stadion 89 years ago, their most-recent clash also coming in the semi-final five summers ago. It's June 2019, and the inaugural edition of the UEFA Nations League Finals are being staged in Northern Portugal; England have reached the final four by topping a group containing Spain and Croatia, while Netherlands had done so by virtue of surprise wins over France and Germany.

It was England who struck first at Estádio D. Afonso Henriques, Marcus Rashford converting a penalty half an hour in, but after going in front, Southgate's side sat back and invited pressure; where have we heard that before? Matthijs de Ligt's towering header got the Dutch back on terms before, deep into stoppage time, Jesse Lingard had seemingly snatched victory, only for it to transpire his toenail was offside; an early initiation into life with VAR for England fans, before its implementation in the Premier League the following season.

As the tie went into extra time, an unfortunate own goal from Kyle Walker and a late clincher from Quincy Promes secured victory for Ronald Koeman's team in Guimarães,. Five players who featured for Southgate's team back then, Jordan Pickford, Walker, John Stones, Declan Rice and Harry Kane, will all do so again in Wednesday's semi-final rematch, certainly hoping for a different outcome with the stakes significantly raised.

2) England 1-3 Netherlands: Euro '88 group stages

Gary Stevens and Ruud Gullit
Gary Stevens and Ruud Gullit / Getty Images/GettyImages

We're jumping in our proverbial DeLorean now to take you back to 1988, the last time Germany hosted the European Championships... well West Germany that is, as reunification was still three years away. Still an eight-team tournament, there was little margin for error, making the fact that England were beaten by Republic of Ireland in their opener, while Netherlands were defeated by Soviet Union later that day, both 1-0, far from ideal, with both fully aware that their clash at Rheinstadion three days later was must win.

Well, it was the Netherlands who prevailed 3-1 in Düsseldorf, with Marco van Basten bagging his first international hat-trick at, what would turn out to be, his tournament. Rinus Michels' side got out of the group by beating Ireland at Parkstadion, while Bobby Robson's team were beaten by Soviet Union in Frankfurt, making this the only time England have failed to pick up a single point at a major tournament.

For the Dutch, they then dumped out the hosts in the semis, van Basten on target again, before a rematch with the Soviets that went rather better in the final at Olympiapark München. Oranje won the final 2-0, with Ruud Gullit breaking the deadlock before van Basten's volley, widely-regarded as one of the best, if not the best, goals in Euros history, saw his nation hoist this trophy aloft for the first time. Back in Germany, will Netherlands triumph over England again?

1) England 4-1 Netherlands: Euro '96 group stages

Alan Shearer
Alan Shearer / Stu Forster/GettyImages

This is certainly an English-biased view, but many view this as one of England's best-ever performances and victories, not just against the Netherlands, against anyone! It's Euro '96 and, as hosts, England have sky-high expectations, making their opening day draw with Switzerland rather underwhelming, followed by a crucial 2-0 victory over Scotland. Nevertheless, Terry Venables' side still needed a result against the Dutch to be sure of a spot in the knockout stages, and what a result they got.

Both Alan Shearer and Teddy Sheringham bagged braces at Wembley, meaning the Three Lions were 4-0 up after an hour and a nation was in both shock and jubilation in equal measure. However, 105 miles north up the M40, Scotland were beating Switzerland simultaneously, meaning the Tartan Army would be joining their neighbours to the south in the quarter-finals on goal difference. Well, we couldn't have that, could we? Patrick Kluivert's late consolation for the Oranje would prove decisive, seeing his team get through on goals-scored, the sixth tiebreaker, breaking Scottish hearts, only adding the England celebrations.

Back in '96, the Three Lions also required a penalty shootout to prevail in the quarter-finals, ousting Spain back then, with Stuart Pearce exercising his demons from Italia '90, similar to Bukayo Saka on Saturday, before yet another semi-final heartbreak, defeated in a shootout by Germany, with Gareth Southgate the unfortunate man to miss. Well, as Southgate finally seeks to end 58 years of hurt, will England overcome the Netherlands in Dortmund? Another 4-1 victory would be nice but unlikely so, if they are going to reach the final at Olympiastadion, they're far more likely to do so the hard way.