Captain Virgil van Dijk said Netherlands would enjoy the moment after qualifying for Euro 2020.

The Dutch ended their self-inflicted exile from major tournament football, having failed to reach Euro 2016 or last year's World Cup, when a 0-0 draw away to Northern Ireland secured a top-two finish in Group C.

Netherlands were without the injured Memphis Depay and carried little threat up front in his absence, while Northern Ireland's Steven Davis missed a first-half penalty that would have ramped up pressure on Ronald Koeman's men.

But in the end the visitors secured the primary objective for the night - the certainty they will be in next summer's 24-team European Championship.

Van Dijk, who won the Champions League with Liverpool last season, told Dutch broadcaster NOS: "We're going to a tournament again. That's the most important thing.

"We wanted to win today and we had chances. We knew it would be difficult but in the end we qualified - how doesn't really matter very much.

"In the last 15 minutes, Northern Ireland started to play more directly, hoping for free-kicks and corners. It was up to us to stay sharp and we did very well at times.

"We are going to the European Championship, let's just enjoy it now. We will prepare ourselves well for that."

Northern Ireland can still qualify by the play-off route, while Netherlands appear likely to finish as group runners-up behind Germany, whom they trail by two points.

The Germans round off their qualifying campaign with a home clash against Northern Ireland next Tuesday, and on the same night Netherlands play host to Estonia.

Ronald Koeman could celebrate a mission accomplished as Netherlands clinched their place at the Euro 2020 finals with a 0-0 draw against Northern Ireland.

Coach Koeman and an emerging band of exciting young players have lifted the Dutch out of the doldrums, after failing to qualify for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.

Their lone European Championship triumph came in 1988, when a team featuring Koeman at centre-back and the likes of Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten further forward brought home the trophy from West Germany.

But Netherlands will head into next year's tournament as a rejuvenated side in with a shout of success, albeit they must produce more persuasive cutting edge than the Windsor Park crowd witnessed on Saturday.

There might have been a Group C upset too, but Steven Davis fired over a first-half penalty for Northern Ireland.

This was a game unlikely to live long in the memory. Josh Magennis went close with an early header for the hosts, before the ball looped up off Steven Berghuis at the other end and hit the Northern Ireland bar.

Ryan Babel was lively for Netherlands but lacked a precise finish, which was what Northern Ireland needed on the half-hour after being awarded a controversial penalty.

Paddy McNair's cross from the right was perfect for George Saville, whose volley struck the arm of Joel Veltman and trundled against the right post.

Despite Dutch protests that Veltman had no chance to get his arms out of the way, the spot-kick was confirmed but Davis hacked the ball a yard over the crossbar.

Netherlands were lacking control and made an apparent tactical substitution before the break, with Davy Propper replacing Marten de Roon, who was booked early on, in midfield.

Magennis squandered another decent chance with his head early in the second half, and news of Germany winning against Belarus meant a draw would not be enough to sustain Northern Ireland's hopes of qualifying directly through to the group stage.

It meant the side led by Michael O'Neill, who will soon give up his Northern Ireland role after last week becoming Stoke City's new manager, needed to go all out for victory.

The Dutch looked the more likely though, Babel having a header saved low down by Bailey Peacock-Farrell before Luuk de Jong came on for Berghuis. The breakthrough continued to elude both sides, with the draw a fair outcome.

What does it mean? Top two settled in Group C

Netherlands are going to the Euros, and Northern Ireland must take the play-off route if they wish to qualify. That fall-back was always likely to be their realistic target after being drawn in the same group as Germany and Koeman's side.

A striking difference

The Dutch team that ruled Europe in 1988 packed a serious punch up front, with Van Basten and Gullit an irrepressible combination. This is not a vintage era for Dutch forwards, however, and the selection of Ryan Babel to lead the line in Belfast exemplified that shortcoming in an otherwise blossoming team. The journeyman turns 33 next month and averages a goal every six games for his country. There must surely be a better alternative to be groomed for a leading role next year.

Davis misses his cue

Davis has been Northern Ireland's Mr Reliable for years, and this was his 116th appearance - beating David Beckham's mark for England to become the UK's most-capped midfielder. But the 34-year-old miscued from the penalty spot at a critical moment, his composure lacking as he cleared the bar.

What's next?

Netherlands and Northern Ireland wrap up the qualifying campaign on Tuesday. Koeman's team host Estonia in Amsterdam and Northern Ireland head to take on Germany in Frankfurt.

Memphis Depay leaving Lyon and joining a "bigger club" would only benefit Netherlands, according to Ronald Koeman.

The 25-year-old signed for the French club in January 2017 and has got his career back on track following a disappointing 18-month spell with Manchester United.

He scored 29 goals in his first two full Ligue 1 campaigns and has seven in 10 outings this term, earning him links with a number of teams, including Tottenham.

Although recognising Lyon as a big club in their own right, Netherlands boss Koeman believes his side will reap the rewards of Depay joining a new side next year.

"He plays at Lyon and is even their captain sometimes," Koeman said at Tuesday's news conference. 

"The fact that he doesn't play for the biggest team in the world clearly doesn't have consequences for his place in the national team. But if he plays at a bigger club, that will also be better for us. 

"Still, Lyon is also a big club that always plays in the Champions League. Again, the fact that he plays in Lyon doesn't mean that he won't be selected for the national team.

"You always hope that every player plays for the biggest clubs that actually compete for the big prizes. 

"I think he's the kind of player that should play at a club like that. If that's in the Premier League or at any other big club, that would be great for him. But you have to ask him about his plans."

Depay has started five of Netherlands' six Euro 2020 qualifiers but is doubtful for Saturday's trip to Northern Ireland due to injury.

The forward also missed the 2-1 win in Belarus last month and Koeman said: "It's nearly the same injury as last time, but in the other leg. 

"He's very positive, because last time he was back on the pitch in about 10 to 12 days. It's too early now to say if he makes the Northern Ireland match. 

"It might be possible that he skips the first match, but plays the second against Estonia. We'll have to wait how that develops day by day."

A draw in Belfast will be enough for Netherlands to seal a spot at next year's European Championship finals, but Koeman is targeting back-to-back wins to finish above Germany in Group C.

"It's the last two matches, the earlier we qualify, the better. A draw might be enough. But I'd rather take six points and win the group. In the end, qualifying is our goal, but I'd rather finish first."

Michael O'Neill has been appointed as Stoke City's new manager but will temporarily continue in his previous role as Northern Ireland boss.

Stoke, a Premier League club 18 months ago, are bottom of the Championship with just eight points from 15 matches.

Nathan Jones was sacked last week, but the Potters' poor form continued with a 2-0 home defeat to West Brom under the caretaker charge of former player Rory Delap.

Stoke have now agreed a deal for O'Neill ahead of a clash with fellow strugglers Barnsley, yet he will take on a dual role initially.

The Irish Football Association confirmed O'Neill would oversee Northern Ireland's remaining two Euro 2020 qualifiers and any subsequent play-off matches.

Irish FA chief executive Patrick Nelson said: "We reluctantly agreed to allow Stoke to talk to Michael after they met the compensation requirements. Michael has now agreed terms with the Championship club.

"Naturally, we are extremely disappointed that Michael is leaving us.

"However, we are delighted all parties have agreed Michael will be in charge of the Northern Ireland team for the games against Netherlands and Germany and potential Euro 2020 play-off matches next March."

Northern Ireland are third in their qualification group, three points behind leaders Netherlands and second-placed Germany - their final two opponents.

O'Neill has signed a three-and-a-half year contract with Stoke.

Toni Kroos and Leon Goretzka have returned to Germany's squad for their Euro 2020 qualifiers against Belarus and Northern Ireland.

Real Madrid star Kroos and Bayern Munich midfielder Goretzka missed the 2-2 friendly draw with Argentina and 3-0 qualifying win against Estonia through injury.

However, both players have since returned to action for their club sides and have been included in Joachim Low's 24-man squad.

Low is still without long-term injury absentee Leroy Sane, while Niklas Sule is set for a lengthy lay-off after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament tear in his left knee last month. 

Bayer Leverkusen attacker Nadiem Amiri received a maiden senior call-up last month and is included again, as is Schalke 04 midfielder Suat Serdar.

"I would have liked more continuity with my selection, but that was not possible because of the many injuries we have had," Low said. 

"All the more important is that Kroos returns and provides some stability, along with Manuel Neuer, Ilkay Gundogan, Marco Reus and Joshua Kimmich.

"We give our full confidence to the players who are present - they deserve our attention."

Germany, second to the Netherlands in Group C on head-to-head record, face Belarus in Monchengladbach on November 16 and welcome Northern Ireland to Frankfurt three days later.

Germany squad in full:

Bernd Leno (Arsenal), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona); Emre Can (Juventus), Jonas Hector (Koln), Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen), Lukas Klostermann (RB Leipzig), Matthias Ginter (Borussia Monchengladbach), Nico Schulz (Borussia Dortmund), Niklas Stark (Hertha Berlin), Robin Koch (Freiburg); Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Julian Brandt (Borussia Dortmund), Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen), Leon Goretzka (Bayern Munich), Luca Waldschmidt (Freiburg), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund), Nadiem Amiri (Bayer Leverkusen), Sebastian Rudy (Hoffenheim), Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich), Suat Serdar (Schalke 04), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid).

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