Germany 2-2 Netherlands
19 November 2018
Scorers: Werne, Sane (Germany); Promes, Van Dijk (Netherlands)
The Netherlands staged a dramatic last-gasp fightback to retain the UFWC title and remain unofficial football world champions in this high-stakes match, which also saw the Dutch qualify for the Nations League Finals next summer. The Dutch were 2-0 down with just five minutes left on the clock, but late, late goals from Quincy Promes and Virgil Van Dijk stole a draw and meant the UFWC champs secured the top spot in Nations League Group A1.
That had looked very unlikely in the first half. Timo Werner opened the scoring for Germany in the 9th minute, superbly volleying a dipping ball from outside the D past Jasper Cillessen. And it was 2-0 ten minutes later when the Dutch defence gave Leroy Sane far too much room and allowed him to fire the ball home.
Germany had three or four chances to kill the game in the second half, but the Dutch kept fighting, and saw a glimmer of hope after Promes curled in an 85th-minute goal past Manuel Neuer. Then in injury time, with the Netherlands pushing everyone forward, Van Dijk got on the end of a cross to volley an equaliser, which made the final score 2-2.
The result means that the Netherlands qualify for the 2019 UEFA Nations League Finals in Porto and Guimarães next summer, alongside Switzerland, England and hosts Portugal (who qualified on merit rather than as hosts). The competition will adopt a knockout format, with the winners of the semi-finals progressing to the final. The draw for the semi finals will be made in Dublin on 3 December 2018.
The Netherlands remain fourth in the all-time UFWC rankings. The next UFWC title match is to be confirmed. While we know that the Dutch will play in the Nations League Finals, but before that we will have Euro 2020 qualifiers, with two match days in March and two in June. The draw will be held in Dublin on the day before the Nations League draw, 2 December. We expect to be able to announce details of the next UFWC fixture then.
UPDATE: Following the Euro 2020 qualifying draw, we now know that the next scheduled UFWC title match will be Netherlands v Belarus on 21 March 2019.
New for 2018,the latest edition of the official UFWC book, Unofficial Football World Champions.
This is the fourth edition of the book that has been published in every World Cup year since 2006. Expanded and updated to include new matches, teams, players and statistics, it’s a complete guide to the UFWC, including all 936 title matches played since 1872, and all 48 unofficial football world champions.
It’s available exclusively from Amazon stores worldwide, priced at £9.99 or $13.95 – click here.