65 mins: The Dutch are just keeping possession and almost toying with the hosts. Eventually, Cathcart tries to solve the problem by taking down Babel on the right flank. Luuk De Jong replaces Berghuis.
63 mins: Bloomin’ heck! The Dutch are going to bring on Luuk De Jong, meaning we could have two De Jongs and two Evanses on the pitch, which just makes my job needlessly harder on a Saturday night.
61 mins: Northern Ireland look very tired and are playing extremely deep, forcing O’Neill on the sidelines to keep shouting at his players to push up. This could be a long final half an hour.
59 mins: Smith has gone to right-back and Dallas has moved to left wing.
57 mins: A high ball is lumped into the box by De Jong, Veltman rises highest to knock it back across the area for Babel to attack but his header is well saved by Peacock-Farrell.
Saville goes off and Smith comes on.
55 mins: Cathcart slips when looking to send a long ball and subsequently completely miskicks it. It’s not the first time he’s lost his footing. Maybe he needs some better studs. Netherlands are amusing themselves by knocking the ball around.
51 mins: Van de Beek gets the wrong side of the defence and sends a low cross into the six-yard box but Jonny Evans is waiting and whacks it clear.
49 mins: Babel breaks through the middles, lays it off to Promes who is dispossessed in the box by Davis who is trying to make up for his earlier missed penalty.
47 mins: Lewis lumps a well-shaped cross into the box from the left, Magennis moves into space but gets under the ball and heads it well over the bar.
Hey advertisers, I have already bought my one Christmas present for the year. Please stop showing me your adverts.
Also … my neighbour already has a holly wreath on the door. Surely, that is too early!
JR emails in to say: “That handball call is the type of call Ireland are going to need on Monday if they want any chance of beating Denmark. Any chance we can get this ref (Marciniak) to just drive down to Dublin after this game? It’s so close he’d have plenty of time for a nice stop off at Newgrange tomorrow. It’s right on the way.
“Or maybe Ireland will get to take their chances with that fella who did the Scotland game earlier.”
Davis must have watched this …
Half-time: Northern Ireland 0-0 Netherlands
Northern Ireland will be left to rue the penalty miss. It was hilariously bad and I am sure Davis probably broke a light in the stand behind. The Dutch have looked good going forward without testing Peacock-Farrell.
45 mins: A free-kick is lifted into the box, Van Dijk gets beyond the defence and knocks the ball down for an oncoming teammate but no one arrives and the ball ends up behind for a goal kick.
One minute added on.
44 mins: Both teams might be happy to get through to half-time here. The game has slowed down after quite an intense opening half in general.
42 mins: Davis slips the ball down the line for Whyte, who plays in a harmless cross, or so it seems, until Propper slips instead of clearing. Sadly, for the hosts, the Dutch recover the ball and remove the danger.
40 mins: Davis’ evening gets worse as he is booked for a challenge on De Jong. The Northern Ireland captain stuck a boot in on the Dutchman when he dribbled past him. Hilariously cynical.
38 mins: Bailey Peacock-Farrell having three surnames forming his name is very confusing. I keep thinking his surname is Bailey-Peacock. He has done a fine job so far, considering he does not get a look in at Burnley.
36 mins: An early sub for the visitors, with Propper set to come for De Roon, who was booked earlier on. Koeman must be worried about what Northern Ireland are offering in the middle of the park.
Babel lays the ball off to Blind 20 yards out and the full-back lifts a shot over the bar.
34 mins: Well, that was a truly dreadful penalty. Northern Ireland were lucky to get the penalty in the first place, so maybe justice was done. Davis went with power and found absolutely no accuracy.
Missed penalty! (Davis)
32 mins: Cillessen plays mind games by moaning about where the ball is placed on the spot. Davis steps up after quite a delay and whacks it over the bar! A long way over!
30 mins: Northern Ireland have a penalty! Or do they? He’s booked someone and is talking the entire Dutch defence without pointing to the spot. McNair swung in a cross which Saville turns towards goal only to see it hit Veltman’s arm. It’s a harsh one as he was only inches away.
28 mins: McNair tries to get the better of Van Dijk, realises it’s a forlorn hope and turns back, with the ball ending up with his own goalkeeper 20 seconds later.
26 mins: Promes gets the better of Dallas down the wing and lifts in a dangerous cross which goes over the head of a flapping Peacock-Farrell, but also everyone else, and out of the box.
24 mins: Northern Ireland have slowed things down, purely because they could not keep up such a ludicrous pace as they set early doors. Now it is case of managing their energy for the next 65 minutes.
22 mins: Northern Ireland have completed 25 passes to Netherlands’ 150. Good luck to the hosts!
Van de Beek plays a pass through to Babel to take onwards but the flag goes up as the forward whacks at shot which is palmed behind. It was certainly tight.
2o mins: Part-time full-back Dallas is in for a long night at right-back I feel. He is firstly up against Promes who is looking very dangerous, then Babel is pulling onto him whenver he can and Blind is getting up the left flank at every chance.
I will keep count of every time the commentators refer to Daley Blind as Danny Blind. Obviously, I will make the same mistake myself.
18 mins: Veltman chucks himself to the ground after Lewis touches his shoulder. A hilarious overreaction from the Ajax man to win a free-kick.
16 mins: Blind controls a perfect crossfield pass and lays the ball off to Babel who fluffs his lines from the middle of the goal and it goes straight to the goalkeeper’s arms. Promes then whacks a shot from the left-hand side of the area but it goes inches wide.
14 mins: Netherlands are under a little less pressure now when they pass it around the back. Admittedly, it would have been impossible for Northern Ireland to keep up the early tempo.
12 mins: De Roon is booked for tripping McNair, meaning he will miss the next match. The Dutch seem to have settled now, though.
10 mins: Netherlands are trying to get a foot in the game. Promes gets into the box and pulls the ball back but Lewis clears. The winger then gets to the byline seconds late and does the same, Berghuis gets to the ball first but he mishits his shot from five yards and it loops onto the crossbar before an almighty scrap to clear the ball. A let-off for Northern Ireland.
8 mins: Whyte swings in a free-kick from the right which Cillessen comes to punch but only gets it as far as Saville on the edge of the box, he smacks a low drive with the goalkeeper AWOL but the ball hits De Ligt on the ground and is cleared.
Northern Ireland are really at it currently. So much energy on the pitch and in the stands.
6 mins: Relentless stuff from Northern Ireland as they put pressure on all over the pitch. McNair swings in a cross from the right, Magennis gets across his marker and flicks a header towards the far post but it flashes just wide.
4 mins: Incredible scenes as Corry Evans chases down a backpass to Cillessen, with the goalkeeper whacking it against the midfielder who blocks it and the ball almost ends up in the back of the net, he then tries to set up Magennis but his pass goes astray. This is an intense start from the hosts.
I can confirm it is extremely lively in Windsor Park. The fans are playing their part, that is for sure.
2 mins: Netherlands whack it long for Babel to get things going, which is not what I was expecting. Cillessen hits a woeful clearance that only travels 30 yards to the feet of Whyte, who dribbles down the right flank only to see his cross hit the first man.
The players are on the pitch and I am reminded that the Dutch kit is one of the best around.
Van Dijk and De Ligt is a decent centre-back pairing. Josh Magennis was impressive in the reverse fixture but it will be one of the toughest tests of his career tonight.
A good win for Wales today.
O’Neill: “We have to go and try to win the game. We’ve picked a team with that in mind.
“I think we’ve put as much pace in the team as we can with Stuart Dallas and Jamal Lewis coming in.”
Michael O’Neill will have a new Championship rival after Neil Harris was appointed Cardiff boss today.
That’s a relief! Scott Minto is actually in Belfast for the match and David Prutton has been relieved.
Is David Prutton going to carry on for a third game? I will be worried for him if he does. Two is just about doable but presenting three separate matches in a day is madness.
I also did the MBM on this earlier and the referee was farcically bad. I am hoping the one in Belfast is better.
No Memphis Depay for Netherlands tonight but we do get Ryan Babel, so I am pretty happy. Depay has been in great nick for Lyon this season, making it a shame that we do not get to see him as he looks to vanquish the reputation built during his time at Old Trafford.
Your main man Nick Ames is in Pristina, so has written this:
Northern Ireland: Peacock-Farrell, J Evans, Cathcart, C Evans, Lewis, Saville, Davis, McNair, Whyte, Magennis, Dallas
Netherlands: Cillesen, Veltman, De Ligt, Van Dijk, Blind, De Roon, De Jong, Berghuis, Van de Beek, Babel, Promes
Northern Ireland’s manager has announced he is off and their qualification hopes hang by a thread, so it’s not a great time for the team.
On the upside, Netherlands are in town, meaning we should be in for a bit of entertainment as the Dutch seem to have found their feet again under Ronald Koeman. The visitors need just a point to confirm their place at the Euros and they will be planning to secure it tonight.
This is not the end of O’Neill and Northern Ireland as they will go into the playoffs next year and the manager will stay on for those matches while also being in charge at Stoke.
Northern Ireland ran Netherlands close last month, leading into the closing stages until the Dutch turned the game around late on with two quick goals.
Let’s hope they can make it a cracking game once again!
Kick-off: 7.45pm GMT