Harry Kane says the arrivals of Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez in the Premier League will drive him to improve in an enticing Golden Boot race.

Kane has won three Golden Boot awards in the English top flight – in 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2020-21 – and managed 17 goals this season as Tottenham qualified for the Champions League.

Spurs team-mate Son Heung-min shared the accolade for the most Premier League goals with Liverpool's Mohamed Salah this season, the pair scoring 23 goals each.

Jurgen Klopp looks set to add more firepower to his attack at Anfield, with Nunez close to joining Liverpool for an initial fee of £64million (€75m) from Benfica.

Nunez has scored 48 goals in 85 games for Benfica in all competitions and averaged 1.2 goals every 90 minutes in the Portuguese Primeira Liga last season.

Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola bolstered his own wealth of attacking options with the Premier League champions Manchester City by triggering Haaland's release clause at Borussia Dortmund.

The Norway international scored 86 goals in 89 games for Dortmund since joining from Salzburg in January 2020, averaging a goal every 84 minutes across all competitions.

Kane cannot wait to compete with the duo next season as the Premier League adds more talismanic talent to their ranks.

 

"Look, I think the battle for the Golden Boot is always tough," Kane said at a pre-match news conference while on Nations League duty with England on Monday. 

"The Premier League has produced some top strikers around the world for a number of years now.

"I think every season I've been playing it's always been a tough battle to win that Golden Boot and it's no different.

"You expect the top strikers to want to play in the Premier League and with those two new signings, that's gonna be the case.

"I think it helps me as a player to have good competition, it drives me to improve and get better. I look forward to the challenge."

The build-up to Kane's 2021-22 campaign was filled with distraction as City tried and failed to secure the services of the England striker, attempting to replace the void left by Sergio Aguero at the Etihad Stadium.

Kane will likely have a smoother pre-season this time around and will look to utilise that to prepare for another campaign under Spurs head coach Antonio Conte.

 

"I try and focus on myself to begin with. Going into any season I have things I want to achieve and goals I want to reach," he added.

"I try not to focus too much on other players in that aspect, I can't control what they do.

"But what I will do is continue to work hard and improve and after this game have a nice break but then look forward to what will be a tough pre-season.

"And then I'll get ready for the new season as I have done for the last seven, eight years now."

Luis Enrique is in no doubt Spain can compete with the very best in the world after watching his side cruise past the Czech Republic 2-0 in the Nations League on Sunday.

Carlos Soler and Pablo Sarabia were on target in each half as La Roja moved top of Group A2 following Portugal's 1-0 defeat to Switzerland.

The win, which stretched Spain's unbeaten run to eight games, means their progress to the Nations League finals could be sealed before their final group game against Portugal.

Should they beat Switzerland in their penultimate game and Portugal lose to the Czech Republic, Spain will seal their place in the tournament.

Luis Enrique was pleased with his side's display at La Rosaleda in Malaga, yet acknowledged there is room for improvement.

"I am very satisfied, how can I not be?" he said in a media conference.

"The rival has shown how good they are, in all aspects. We have been quite good, although we lacked some things.

"The atmosphere was wonderful, with lots of cheering and respect for the anthem of the rival. I hope it repeats itself and serves as an example.

"We are leaders and we have been good in general. Ask the rivals what they feel when playing with us. Surely we will compete [against anyone]."

Marco Asensio was particularly bright for Spain, teeing up Soler's goal to move level with Jordi Alba as the joint-highest goal creator under Luis Enrique's leadership (seven assists).

He played more key passes (three) than any other player on the pitch, and Luis Enrique says the fact he is not a regular starter at Real Madrid is not an issue.

"I always called him up when I saw him doing well," he said. "Now he has been playing less. We like him and he knows it. There are no doubts with him."

Unai Simon made important saves from Vaclav Cerny and Jan Kuchta before Soler's opener, with Luis Enrique pleased at his goalkeeper's decisiveness. 

"He chose well in decision-making," he added. "He gives us a lot with the ball in aerial aspects. He has been good.

"It gives me a lot of peace of mind, and I am the one who makes decisions. He has saved us and that's what the goalkeeper is for."

Fernando Santos questioned the referee's performance after Portugal suffered the first defeat of their Nations League campaign to Switzerland.

Haris Seferovic opened the scoring after just 55 seconds in Geneva, the fastest goal in Nations League history and earliest Switzerland have scored since 1988.

Referee Fran Jovic awarded a penalty to Switzerland 13 minutes later for a handball against Nuno Mendes, but the VAR overruled the decision.

A clear foul on Andre Silva by Nico Elvedi on the halfway line was the reason, with the Portugal striker requiring brief medical treatment for the ankle injury suffered in the tackle.

Portugal were incensed at the original decision, surrounding Jovic at half-time, and tempers continued to boil over in the second half, with Bruno Fernandes confronting the Swiss bench at one point.

While Santos refused to directly criticise the referee's performance, he admitted his frustrations with Switzerland seemingly slowing down the game en route to a 1-0 victory.

"I'm not going to criticise, but when a penalty is awarded that doesn't happen just like that, when there's a clear foul in midfield... Then just look at the number of fouls and time lost," he told reporters. 

"The fourth official knows very well what happened in the game."

Santos was satisfied with the second-half improvement, even if Swiss goalkeeper Jonas Omlin's heroics left Portugal a point behind group leaders Spain, who defeated Czech Republic on Sunday.

"At half-time, I was just saying that we have to have the ball and play differently and push them back," he added. 

"We started very well, in the first few minutes we wanted to put the ball very quickly on [Goncalo] Guedes. We knew opportunities would arise and many have arisen."

Portugal are not in action again until visiting Czech Republic in the Nations League on September 24.

Austria manager Ralf Rangnick says it is "an absolute miracle" Christian Eriksen is alive, let alone playing football again without any worries.

Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest when playing for Denmark against Finland at Euro 2020 a year ago and was brought back to life on the pitch.

However, the 30-year-old was unable to play for Inter on medical grounds as Italy prevent players from competing after having a cardioverter-defibrillator fitted.

Brentford offered the midfielder a six-month contract in January and he subsequently delivered, scoring once and assisting four to help the Bees away from the relegation zone.

Thomas Frank remains hopeful of keeping Eriksen at the Brentford Community Stadium next season, despite interest from Manchester United and former club Tottenham.

Rangnick, speaking before Austria's Nations League clash with Denmark on Monday, cannot believe that Eriksen is back on the football pitch exactly a year on from the issues on June 12.

"It's an absolute miracle [that Christian Eriksen is still alive]. I can remember the pictures of the team forming a circle around him as he was being treated," Rangnick told reporters. 

"It really was a matter of life and death. If anyone had predicted at the time that months later, six months later, he would be able to play football again, he would not have believed it.

"I talked to Kasper [Schmeichel] about it before the game, and he also said he doesn't worry about [Eriksen] anymore, because Eriksen enjoys it, he has no problems at all anymore so sees no problems playing.

"And it's extraordinary that when something like this happens to you, that you go about your job and play again without any worries. This is also something extraordinary."

Spain made it back-to-back wins to go top of Nations League Group A2 as goals from Carlos Soler and Pablo Sarabia sealed a 2-0 win over the Czech Republic on Sunday.

Luis Enrique's side edged past Switzerland on Thursday after opening their campaign with two draws, and they racked up another win at La Rosaleda in Malaga. 

Valencia midfielder Soler scored the opening goal shortly after the midway point in the first half – his third strike at international level.

And substitute Sarabia made sure of all three points in the 75th minute as La Roja usurped Portugal, who lost 1-0 in Switzerland, at the top of the group. 

Unai Simon denied Vaclav Cerny and Jan Kuchta inside the opening 20 minutes as the visitors started brightly.

Yet Spain went ahead with their first attempt on goal in the 24th minute, Soler drilling past Ales Mandous from eight yards after running onto Marco Asensio's pull-back.

Soler then clipped wide soon after as Spain fell short of doubling their advantage before the interval.

Simon pushed away a long-range drive from Alex Kral midway through a tepid second half as both sides struggled to build any momentum. 

That was until Sarabia followed up his winner against Switzerland with another goal three minutes after being introduced for Asensio, the attacking midfielder nudging home from Ferran Torres' low cross to wrap up maximum points.

 

What does it mean? Victory moves Spain to group summit

After a sluggish start to their Nations League campaign, Spain are well and truly up and running now.

A second consecutive win moved them onto eight points, one ahead of Portugal. The Czech Republic, meanwhile, remain in third with four points from their opening four games.

Asensio shines

Asensio's pass for Soler's goal means no player has provided more assists for Spain under Luis Enrique's leadership (seven, level with Jordi Alba). He was Spain's biggest threat here, playing more key passes (three) than any other player on the pitch.

Morata goes missing

Alvaro Morata endured a game to forget up front for the hosts. The 29-year-old failed to have a single shot or play a key pass before he was hauled off for Torres in the 59th minute.

What's next?

Both sides complete their Group A2 campaigns in September. Spain are at home to Switzerland before visiting Portugal, while the Czech Republic host Portugal and then travel to Switzerland.

Portugal suffered their first defeat of the Nations League campaign after Haris Seferovic scored the winner in a 1-0 victory for Switzerland in Geneva.

Switzerland had lost all three of their Group A2 fixtures, including a 4-0 hammering in the reverse fixture, but took the lead through Seferovic inside the first minute.

Fernando Santos' side were repeatedly denied by Swiss goalkeeper Jonas Omlin in search of an equaliser, with the absence of the injured talisman Cristiano Ronaldo particularly noticeable for the visitors.

Defeat left Portugal a point behind Spain at the summit of the group, while Switzerland picked up their first win to move one point behind Czech Republic in third.

Switzerland raced out the blocks as Seferovic headed into the bottom-left corner from Silvan Widmer's right-wing cross after just 55 seconds – the fastest goal in Nations League history.

The hosts thought they had a penalty 13 minutes later for a Nuno Mendes handball, but a lengthy VAR check ruled the spot-kick out for an earlier Nico Elvedi foul on Andre Silva.

Omlin kept his side ahead by denying a close-range Danilo Pereira header, before Rafael Leao headed home shortly after, only to be ruled out for offside.

Omlin also stopped a low Andre Silva drive after the interval, while Remo Freuler drilled just wide at the other end.

Seferovic almost extended Switzerland's lead but arrowed narrowly off target on a rapid counter-attack before Omlin beat away a swerving Bernardo Silva long-range strike.

The Montpellier stopper carried on his fantastic performance by pushing away a sliding Goncalo Guedes effort and a low Diogo Jota header as Switzerland held on for victory.

What does it mean? Portugal's top-spot hopes dented

Portugal were arguably fortunate to snatch a draw in their Nations League opener with Spain, but then recorded convincing victories over Switzerland and Czech Republic.

However, they came unstuck in Geneva and were largely off the pace, handing Spain the advantage in Group A2.

With only one team progressing, Portugal may end up needing to beat Spain on the final matchday in September.

Swift Seferovic

Not only was Seferovic's smart flick to open the scoring the fastest goal in Nations League history, but it was also Switzerland's earliest goal since 1988.

The striker became the first Swiss player to score in the first minute of a game in 34 years, since Alain Sutter managed to do so in World Cup qualifying against Luxembourg.

Sorry Silva

Andre Silva was tasked with leading the line in the absence of Ronaldo, but failed to leave his mark against Elvedi and Manuel Akanji.

The RB Leipzig striker was caught offside on a game-high two occasions, the first in the build-up to Leao's disallowed header, and made just 15 passes all match.

What's next?

Portugal are not in action until a Nations League away clash at Czech Republic on September 24, when Switzerland also visit Spain.

Spain made it back-to-back wins to go top of Nations League Group A2 as goals from Carlos Soler and Pablo Sarabia sealed a 2-0 win over the Czech Republic on Sunday.

Luis Enrique's side edged past Switzerland on Thursday after opening their campaign with two draws, and they racked up another win at La Rosaleda in Malaga. 

Valencia midfielder Soler scored the opening goal shortly after the midway point in the first half – his third strike at international level.

And substitute Sarabia made sure of all three points in the 75th minute as La Roja usurped Portugal, who lost 1-0 in Switzerland, at the top of the group. 

Unai Simon denied Vaclav Cerny and Jan Kuchta inside the opening 20 minutes as the visitors started brightly.

Yet Spain went ahead with their first attempt on goal in the 24th minute, Soler drilling past Ales Mandous from eight yards after running onto Marco Asensio's pull-back.

Soler then clipped wide soon after as Spain fell short of doubling their advantage before the interval.

Simon pushed away a long-range drive from Alex Kral midway through a tepid second half as both sides struggled to build any momentum. 

That was until Sarabia followed up his winner against Switzerland with another goal three minutes after being introduced for Asensio, the attacking midfielder nudging home from Ferran Torres' low cross to wrap up maximum points.

Reece James has said people who question Trent Alexander-Arnold's abilities "don't really know the game".

The highly-rated Chelsea right-back is in direct competition with his Liverpool counterpart for a place in Gareth Southgate's England team ahead of the World Cup later this year.

Southgate has an embarrassment of riches to pick from on the right side of his defence, with Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier also a part of his current squad.

James, who started for the Three Lions in Saturday's 0-0 Nations League draw with Italy at Molineux, said that while he wants to be his country's first choice, he does not agree with those who criticise Alexander-Arnold's defensive qualities.

The Liverpool man has regularly received uncomplimentary reviews for his defending, with some blaming him for the goal scored by Vinicius Junior against the Reds in last month's Champions League final defeat against Real Madrid.

However, the 23-year-old recorded 17 clean sheets in 32 Premier League appearances last season, more than any of his England right-back rivals, even on a per 90 minutes basis.

"I'll try everything I can [to be first choice]," James said. "Only my performances will be able to prove what I can bring. In these games and building into next season I'll hopefully be able to show that I'm ready to play every game.

"I make mistakes as well. I gave away a penalty against Hungary, so we are both still learning our trade. 

"Liverpool have 95 per cent of the ball and he defends less than I have to. People have a lot of stuff to say and don't really know the game. Trent is a great player."

Kylian Mbappe should be fit to feature in France's Nations League clash with Croatia on Monday, according to Didier Deschamps.

The Paris Saint-Germain striker was forced off during Les Bleus' 2-1 defeat to Denmark at the Stade de France earlier this month.

Mbappe appeared to sustain the injury innocuously, pulling up after playing a pass to Aurelien Tchouameni.

He sat out the follow-up draw away to Croatia before coming off the bench to score France's late equaliser against Austria.

Deschamps is unsure how long Mbappe can feature for on Monday, but he is seemingly expecting him to be in contention to play some part.

Asked if Mbappe is fit, Deschamps told reporters: "Yes, according to him, although he still has a feeling that is not ideal.

"He is much less uncomfortable than he was at the start of the week when he couldn't train.

"He was ready to do half an hour [against Austria], it was planned. He exercised his knee where he had this discomfort.

"We are doing everything so that he can be there tomorrow."

Another France forward who is having difficulties of a different variety is Antoine Griezmann.

The 31-year-old, who spent this season on loan at Atletico Madrid, has not scored for club or country since his first appearance of 2022, way back on January 6 in a Copa del Rey win over minnows Rayo Majadahonda.

His last goal for Les Bleus was two months earlier in the 8-0 win over Kazakhstan.

Despite his struggles, Deschamps insists he and the team retain belief in the man who played such a key role in their 2018 World Cup success.

"We have all experienced less beneficial periods, when confidence is less," Deschamps added.

"For Antoine, it is not a question of positioning. I have confidence in him, the group has too, he is not at his best but this can happen to anyone."

Defending champions France are bottom of Nations League Group A1 after three games, having only managed draws with Croatia and Austria after losing to Denmark on matchday one.

Harry Maguire has defended England and Gareth Southgate from criticism relating to their style of play, pointing out they did well at the last World Cup and Euro 2020 playing the same way.

England were held to a 0-0 draw by Italy at Molineux on Saturday, leaving them with two points after their first three Nations League games.

Of similar concern is the fact the Three Lions have not scored a single goal from open play in those matches, with their solitary strike coming from the penalty spot in the midweek 1-1 draw with Germany.

Manager Southgate has been criticised for perceived cautious tactics, which many consider to be the root of the issue.

But Maguire is not convinced, suggesting they are not doing anything different to when they reached the 2018 World Cup semi-finals or the Euro 2020 final.

"[Southgate's] record over the last four years speaks for itself," Maguire told BBC Radio 5 Live. "When you play at the highest level there's pressure and scrutiny and criticism, and every game that you don't win there will always be criticism [afterwards].

"The last few games we haven't scored enough goals, but we got to a World Cup semi-final playing this way and we were a penalty shoot-out away from winning the Euros in our home country, which would've been one of the greatest moments this country has ever seen."

Maguire then urged England fans to get behind the team, with the World Cup less than six months away.

"Let the football do the talking. Everyone get behind us for the World Cup and keep pushing us, we're doing our best to improve," he continued.

"We've shown there's still areas to improve and if we want to lift the World Cup we have to strive to improve.

"Every day that we're together we have to aim for that because we want to set high standards and the next [aim] is to lift the trophy."

England are next in action at home to Hungary on Tuesday as they look to finally get their first Nations League win of the year and get off foot of the Group A3 table.

Mason Mount insisted England have to improve in front of goal following their 0-0 draw at home to Italy in the Nations League on Saturday.

England sit bottom of Group 3 after Saturday's goalless draw at the Molineux Stadium, which was played behind closed doors after fan trouble during the Euro 2020 final between the two sides.

The Three Lions' only goal over these opening three games came via the penalty spot, with Harry Kane converting in the closing stages of their eventual 1-1 draw away to Germany.

According to Mount, the creation of chances would be more of an issue than their realisation but England still have to be able to capitalise after a second draw in three games.

"It is frustrating," he told Channel 4 post-match. "Obviously we want to win, we want to create chances and score goals. I probably should have done better with my chance, we had a few other chances, so it is something we need to look at.

"We have created chances but we should have done better with them. We are keeping clean sheets so it is something that is a positive but we need to keep working at it.

"We have had chances today and we probably should have scored, but sometimes you go through little periods where it is difficult. The only thing we can do is keep working hard in training, staying focused and look where we can improve. We have the players to do that, the talent and quality, just work at it."

Predominantly playing in an attacking three in Thomas Tuchel's 3-4-3 for Chelsea, Mount has seemingly found more freedom at international level as a conventional number 10.

Though deployed in a similar role to club level for their opening defeat to Hungary, England boss Gareth Southgate reverted to the 4-2-3-1, with the 23-year-old hinting he's more comfortable with the latter despite the result.

"I was in a 10 role so it gave me freedom to roam and find spaces, trying to link the midfield to the attacking boys," he said afterwards.

"I found myself in spaces to shoot a couple of time but did not to do well enough from my shot and it was too easy for the keeper. It is a difficult one to take because I feel we could have come away with more.

"We want to win every game, even if it is a friendly. We have looked at the last two games, felt confident in what we do but it is a tough one."

Italy head coach Robert Mancini admitted he is surprised by his inexperienced side's start to the Nations League following their 0-0 draw with England on Saturday.

Without midfield lynchpin Marco Verratti and the likes of Federico Chiesa and Andrea Belotti, the Azzurri put in an encouraging performance in Saturday's Euro 2020 final rematch, earning a point at the Molineux Stadium.

With the majority of the squad earning less than ten caps before this international window, Italy lead Group 3 after three games on five points, ahead of Hungary, Germany and England, who are bottom of the group on two points.

While conceding Italy are in early stages of transition after their failure to qualify for the World Cup, Mancini revealed he expected this initial period to be more volatile.

"I’ll be honest, I did not expect this. I thought it would be worse," he confessed. "We still have a lot to work on, there’s a long road ahead full of dangers.

"We certainly need to score more goals and if Davide Frattesi had scored in the opening five minutes, it would’ve been a different game. He’ll get it next time.

"I didn’t expect us to do so well in these three weeks together. It’s important that we haven’t changed our style of football, even when the personnel did."

With relative experience compared to the new faces in the squad, Lorenzo Pellegrini has had to take on more responsibility for the Azzurri following their loss to Argentina in the UEFA/CONMEBOL Finalissima, scoring against Germany and Hungary.

More of a threat in the penalty area from midfield than a technical and creative fulcrum, the 25-year-old earned a third consecutive start on Saturday – something he had not done since 2018.

The Roma captain was praised for his versatility by his coach despite evident room for improvement.

“Pellegrini has his own style of football," Mancini said. "He’s not a 10 like Giuseppe Giannini, nor a 10 like Francesco Totti.

"I think he can become much better with time, because he is so good at both attacking and defending.

"At times he loses balls he shouldn’t, but if he improves that and a couple of other things, he can become simply extraordinary.”

Roberto Martinez felt Belgium had two Nations League points taken away from them by the VAR after Brennan Johnson's late equaliser gave Wales a 1-1 draw.

Youri Tielemans' 50th-minute strike looked as though it would prove enough for Belgium, who were without Thibaut Courtois and Romelu Lukaku in Cardiff.

But Wales, who had an early Ethan Ampadu strike contentiously ruled out by the video assistant, were grateful to see Johnson's 86th-minute leveller allowed to stand despite the linesman initially flagging for offside.

Martinez, however, was left furious by the decision.

"I can't analyse this game until I get an explanation from someone about that goal against. It was a shocking decision," Martinez told VTM. 

"The assistant referee makes the right decision, but somehow the VAR makes it in his head to overrule. Those lines are not parallel.

"We should have won this match. They took two points away from us tonight, it was simply offside.

"My players don't deserve this, because we defended really well."

The stalemate meant Belgium failed to capitalise on the Netherlands' 2-2 draw with Poland in the other clash in Group A4.

Martinez's side remain three points behind the Netherlands with three games played.


 

Gareth Southgate dismissed suggestions England's recent struggles are down to a conservative approach, instead ruing a lack of sharpness in the final third. 

England drew 0-0 with Italy on Saturday as the Three Lions were left rooted to the foot of their Nations League group with just two points from three games. 

Across the trio of matches played this month, England have scored just one goal – Harry Kane's penalty in the 1-1 draw with Germany. 

The Three Lions' performances have been widely criticised, and while they did create chances against the Azzurri, they were at times second best to a team undergoing something of a transformation. 

A common criticism of England throughout Southgate's time in charge has been that they lack an identity beyond their often pragmatic approach, but he did not want to entertain such an idea this time. 

Asked if he saw the performance as cautious, Southgate told Channel 4: "I don't see how you can really. 

"We tried to move the ball through a very good, well-organised team. We've got the ball into our forward players and we've given all of them a go, tried to refresh it because we know the state of the season we're at. 

"So, I think at the moment that little bit of sharpness in the final third isn't quite there, but I was pleased with the general performance." 

Tammy Abraham started in place of Kane in attack, with the Roma striker supported by Raheem Sterling, Mason Mount and Jack Grealish. 

While Sterling and Mount each managed three shots and Grealish laid on a game-high four key passes, Abraham mustered only two shots. 

One was a harmless off-target header and the other a wasteful finish after robbing Italy of possession inside their own area, as he scuffed wide of the right-hand post. 

Nevertheless, Southgate seemed encouraged by Abraham's display. 

"I said earlier in the week, we've been too reliant on Harry and Raheem for our goals," he continued. 

"Other players have got to step into that phase. A number of them do it for their clubs but at international level they've not managed to convert that. 

"So we've looked dangerous without getting the goals that are needed in the bigger games. 

"I thought Tammy was fine. I haven't seen that chance back from right at the start, but that's probably the one [England should have taken]. 

"We felt we needed to refresh the team when we did it [brought Abraham off] but I wasn't unhappy with Tammy's performance at all." 

England will hope to finally get their first win of their Nations League campaign on Tuesday when they host Hungary, to whom they lost in Budapest last weekend. 

The Netherlands' draw with Poland felt like a defeat for Memphis Depay after he missed a potentially game-winning penalty in second-half stoppage time. 

Poland left Robert Lewandowski on the bench but went ahead in the first half through Matty Cash, and extended their lead via Piotr Zielinski four minutes after the restart at De Kuip.

Goals from Davy Klaassen and Denzel Dumfries restored parity just five minutes later and Cash's handball gave Depay a chance to secure all three points in the Nations League Group A4 game. 

However, the Barcelona attacker's spot-kick hit the post, making him the first Netherlands player to miss three penalties. 

"I missed it and unfortunately that can happen. I had the winner on my foot but I didn't score it," Depay told NOS. 

"I practice penalties and score them often enough. It just has to go in, because then we win the match. Now it feels like a defeat. 

"They sat back, especially in the first half, and then the spaces are small. They also took the lead when they hadn't really had a chance before it and they were then 10 [players] behind the ball. 

"We said at half-time that we had to stay calm. It was a blow [Poland going 2-0 up]. We fought, continue to play football and always believed in ourselves, but it was difficult."

Depay denied that wearing the captain's armband added any pressure after he failed to net the goal he needs to draw level with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in second place on the Netherlands' all-time scoring list.

"I don't think one has to do with the other," he said. "Captain or not, I always want to play well. This time it wasn't the case, but that can happen."

The Netherlands retained their three-point lead at the top of the group because Belgium were held to a 1-1 draw by Wales. 

Louis van Gaal admitted the mood in the dressing room was downcast, but was pleased with the character his team showed to mount a comeback.

"Memphis didn't play his best game. He should've scored the winner at the end. Luckily it's happening now. At the World Cup he will get them in," said Van Gaal.

"The guys sat in the dressing room afterwards as if they had lost, but we came back from 2-0 down. This was the first time we played against a team that was defending with 10 men.

"I'm very proud of my team for the resilience, the spirit and the way we played in the second half."

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