GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany — A dramatic comeback sent the Netherlands to the UEFA Nations League finals and ended Germany’s nightmare year with yet more disappointment in a 2-2 draw on Monday.
With the comeback, the Dutch — who missed the last European Championship and the World Cup — qualified ahead of the world champion France to join England, Switzerland and Portugal in next year’s inaugural Final Four.
The Dutch were trailing by 2-0 in the 85th minute, and their hopes of advancing seemed long gone.
But Quincy Promes curled a shot past the German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, and defender Virgil van Dijk — playing as a makeshift striker — volleyed in a second, in the 90th minute, for the point the Netherlands needed.
Based on its major tournament failures, the Netherlands had widely been considered the favorite for relegation in the Nations League after draws against Germany and France in January.
With Ronald Koeman in his first year as coach and Ajax’s Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong giving the team a shot of youthful energy, the Netherlands proved it again belonged with the continent’s big names. At home, the Dutch beat Germany, 3-0, and France, 2-0. But they struggled to maintain similar form on the road until the final five minutes of Monday’s game.
Germany had already been relegated to League B, capping a year Coach Joachim Löw called “a slap in the face” after a group-stage exit at the World Cup. Some in the stands called for Löw to step down after 12 years in charge, though his team dominated for most of the game.
The Germans showed sublime skill for striker Timo Werner’s ninth-minute opening goal. Serge Gnabry flicked the ball to Werner, who headed it on before unleashing a powerful low shot from long range.
De Ligt was at fault for the second goal. As Leroy Sane struggled to control the ball, de Ligt, a defender, mistimed his challenge, leaving Sane to hit a shot that deflected off Kenny Tete and into the net.
Germany could not manage a third goal to finish off the Netherlands, although Gnabry was close with a header in the 40th minute and Werner dragged a shot wide in the 63rd.
The Dutch sprang to life in the final minutes. In the 85th, Germany failed to clear the ball and ignored Promes lurking on the edge of the penalty area. When the ball reached him, he had plenty of time to send a curling shot to the top-right corner past Neuer.
With nothing to lose, Van Dijk, the team captain, went up front as a makeshift forward, using his height and strength in the buildup to his tying goal. Tonny Vilhena picked up the ball on the right flank and sent in a cross that glanced off a German head for Van Dijk to volley home.