ROTTERDAM: The Netherlands have given them the bad form that they saw losing out at the last two major tournaments, and even Ronald Koeman's coach is shocked by a day victory Friday over the world champions of France.
"We've shown that we have broken slowly, but I did not expect that we would be much better for 90 minutes," said Ronald Koeman, delighted after winning 2-0 in Rotterdam against the French for their first time. He won the World Cup in Russia.
The result means that the Netherlands can win the group if they take Gelsenkirchen against Germany on Monday, using the final awards of the two World Cups to move on to the next rounds of the League of Nations in June.
"I also did not expect that this team would be so far as they were reading a game. We have shown such an evening that we have made huge steps. Finally, we played really well, "said Koeman.
Georginio Wijnaldum scored just before half-term and Memphis Depay was a late penalty as the Netherlands lay against the world champions, looking out of the side that lost out on the 2016 European Championship and the last World Cup in Russia .
The Netherlands 3-0 attacked Germany 3-0 last month in the League of Nations to identify their potential, but Koeman, a coach appointed in February, tried to temper the euphoria.
But he was totally praised after the most recent victory.
"In the previous games there were times where we could have been much better. But being better than we were against France would be very difficult.
"It has given the team a lot of self-confidence. France did not play and try to make a decent game of it. It made it difficult to stay in patients and to choose seconds. We had lots of opportunities to second goal, but their keeper (Hugo Lloris) was huge, otherwise the last score could have been 3-0 or 4-0. "
Depay said the young team was on track.
"I enjoy how the team is developing and, in such games, we can get a result, then we're on the right track."
(Report by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)