The note passed to Virgil van Dijk before equaliser v Germany

Netherlands’ defender Virgil van Dijk celebrates during the UEFA Nations League match against Germany in Gelsenkirchen

Netherlands’ defender Virgil van Dijk celebrates during the UEFA Nations League match against Germany in Gelsenkirchen

Van Dijk scored a 90th-minute equaliser in Gelsenkirchen to ensure his side finished top of Group A1 and sealed their place in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals, along with Portugal, Switzerland and England.

The Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan cut an emotional figure at full-time having chose to officiate the fixture despite the news emerging of the death of his mum. "He broke down with tears in his eyes".

"It's nice that in the end we earned the draw and qualified, the ball fell for me and I hit it wonderfully", Dutch captain van Dijk said.

"When we were 2-0 down they asked me if we should change things around and I said yes".

It is reported that Hategan had opted to proceed with the game despite his recent loss, although his grief was evident as he blew up for full-time at the Veltins-Arena.

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Quincy Promes gave them a fighting chance of progressing with a finessed effort in the 85th minute before Liverpool defender Van Dijk stole the headlines at the death, hammering home Tonny Vilhena's cross past Manuel Neuer.

The Dutch, on the road to recovery under new manager Ronald Koeman after failing to qualify for the last two major tournaments, topped League A Group 1 due to a better head-to-head record despite finishing level on seven points with France.

Goals from Timo Werner and Leroy Sane had put Germany ahead.

Speaking about the late Dutch comeback, Low said: "This kind of thing seems to be the story of our entire year".

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