DOHA, QATAR - Saturday, December 3, 2022: Netherlands' Cody Gakpo during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Netherlands and USA at the Khalifa International Stadium. Netherlands won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Cody Gakpo sets Liverpool record but Netherlands left “ashamed” by Italy

It was another miserable outing for the Netherlands as they lost their UEFA Nations League playoff, but there was a milestone for Cody Gakpo.

Having both suffered defeat in their semi-finals earlier in the week, the Netherlands met Italy in Enschede on Sunday to determine third place.

Gakpo started again, as did Virgil van Dijk, with Ronald Koeman making just one change from the side that lost 4-2 to Croatia.

For the striker, it marked the 60th game of the season for Gakpo – for club (50) and country (10) – which is more than any other Liverpool player.

Unfortunately for the Dutch, it was another rough afternoon as their visitors went 2-0 up in the first 20 minutes through Federico Dimarco and Davide Frattesi.

Both goals were the result of a defensive shambles, particularly the opener for Dimarco as Van Dijk’s centre-back partner Lutsharel Geertruida completely gave up.

Geertruida was one of three players brought off at half-time as Ronald Koeman shook things up, with Steven Bergwijn, Wout Weghorst and Gini Wijnaldum sent on.

There was an immediate chance for the Netherlands as Van Dijk’s diagonal ball sent Gakpo through, but the No. 9 was only able to fire it at the goalkeeper.

Bergwijn did grab one back, twisting and firing home after Gakpo’s chip into the box, but Italy struck again four minutes later.

Van Dijk came under intense scrutiny for his defensive work in Federico Chiesa’s eventual winner, looking to stand off the winger and show him onto his left foot, which he ultimately scored from beyond an awful Justin Bijlow.

Wijnaldum netted another for the Netherlands late on, but they were consigned to a 3-2 defeat which left them off the podium in the UEFA Nations League.

It is debatable whether Van Dijk should be criticised for his role in Chiesa’s goal, but there is a growing sense that Liverpool’s No. 4 has lost a step of late.

His tendency to stand off his marker and wait for play to develop has often paid off in the past, but with the 31-year-old now struggling for form and, it would seem, confidence, it is more easily exploited.

DOHA, QATAR - Sunday, November 20, 2022: Netherlands and Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk (R) during a press conference at the Qatar National Convention Center ahead of the opening Group A game between Senegal and Netherlands during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Speaking to NOS after the game, Van Dijk admitted feeling “ashamed” at his country’s performances.

“It just wasn’t good enough. We should definitely look at this, especially in view of the important matches that are coming up,” he said.

“You also play for the honour and we are ashamed of how we played in the first half.

“We all need to take a very good look in the mirror. Things have to be very different in the next period, let’s focus on that.”