For 85 minutes it looked like Germany had saved the best of a miserable 2018 for last. But last gasp goals from Quincy Promes and Virgil van Dijk sent the Netherlands through and brought yet more despair for German fans.
Germany 2 - 2 Netherlands
(Werner 9', Sane 20' - Promes 85', Van Dijk 90')
Not so long ago, it felt that Germany would always find a way to win. After they threw away a game they dominated with two concessions in the last five minutes, the opposite now seems true.
After a quicker, younger front three impressed against Russia, Löw persisted with Timo Werner, Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry against rivals that beat them 3-0 last month
His decision was rewarded early when Werner brought down Gnabry’s flick and hammered past Jasper Cillessen on the bounce from outside the box. The speed of thought and execution from the Leipzig man seemed to surprise the Dutch keeper.
While the second goal was scored by one of the younger players starting to make their mark, it was cooked up by one of the old guard. Toni Kroos, liberated by having Joshua Kimmich alongside him, received a fizzed ball from Mats Hummels in his own half and launched a brilliant long pass over the Dutch defense in to the path of Sane. The Manchester City man’s first touch sent him backwards but he jinked in to space and slammed home with the aid of a slight deflection.
Though the Dutch finally worked up a couple of periods of pressure in the second half, the hosts looked comfortable until Quincy Promes profited from a Leon Goretzka error to make the last few minutes interesting.
In truth, Löw’s side should’ve put the game to bed long before that but Germany’s profligacy came back to haunt them when Van Djik hammered home a back post volley in the last minute of normal time to send the Dutch in to the semifinals and give Germany that suddenly-familiar sinking feeling.
FULL TIME: That's it. Germany have thrown it away and the Netherlands will join England, Portugal and Switzerland in the semifinals.
90+3 - There are four minutes of injury time. The Dutch fans are absolutely loving this.
90+1 - Unbelievable. Vilhena throws one in to the box, it gets a nick at the front post and the big Liverpool center half hammers it home on the volley. This was all over six minutes ago, now the Dutch are going to the finals.
90' GOAL! Germany 2 - 2 Netherlands (Van Dijk)
87' - Chance! Goretzka and Reus combine to slide one across the pitch to the onrushing Kehrer but he scuffs it horribly from near the penalty spot. Probably not the man Germany wanted on the end of that.
86' - Nervy times ahead for Germany. Goretzka over-ran the ball on the edge of his own box allowing the Dutch to work it to Promes. The Sevilla winger took a quick glance and curled it round Neuer from just inside the box.
85' - GOAL! Germany 2 - 1 Netherlands (Promes)
82' - Schulz swings a boot at a deflected cross but it goes behind for a German corner. Rüdiger is the target but Van Dijk is the winner.
80' - Germany make their last change. Goretzka replaces Sane, who has been excellent.
78' - Better from Depay, who glides past Süle and Hummels before forcing a smart stop from Neuer.
76' - Depay lifts another free kick in to the box but again it fails to beat the first man.
73' - That was much better from Müller. The centurion chips a lovely ball over to Reus while falling on his backside but again the Dortmund man can't pick out the man in the middle, this time Sane.
71' - Sane bursts through again and finds Müller but the Bayern man's return ball is poor and runs out of play.
69' - Reus gets in down the left, courtesy of a clever little ball from Schulz, but can't pick out a man. Kimmich takes a booking in order to prevent the Dutch from breaking.
67' - 100 up! Thomas Müller enters the field for Gnabry and brings up his 100th cap in the process. There are a few whistles around the crowd, presumably just the Bayern factor at play there. Dilrosun's Netherlands debut is over though, he's also tweaked a muscle and is replaced by Luuk de Jong.
62' - Chance! Gnabry releases Werner early. The striker has got the legs on Tete and breaks in to the box, but drags his shot wide. That's it for Werner, who is replaced by Marco Reus.
60' - Vilhena replaces Wijnaldum for the Dutch.
59' - Depay eludes Hummels but the center back is bailed out by his Bayer teammate Süle. Hummels seems to be slowing by the week.
56' - Promes has a pop from distance that forces Neuer in to his first proper save of the night. It was comfortable but this has probably been the Netherlands' best spell.
55' - Depay briefly troubles Hummels after isolating him for the first time tonight then Neuer flies off his line to punch a cross out.
51' - The Dutch get away with one, as Gnabry bursts through and is wrongly flagged offside. Then Kroos takes a booking for hauling Depay back on the halfway line,
49' - The visitors are trying to crank up the pressing a notch but it's mainly resulted in niggly fouls so far.
46' - We're back underway, there have been no further changes from either side. Kroos nicks the ball early, resulting in a half chance for Werner. But it's straight at the keeper.
HALF TIME: That was a pretty dominant half for Germany. Their rapid front three, particularly Leroy Sane, are causing the Dutch all manner of problems, Kroos is conducting from deep and Neuer hasn't had to make a save. That's almost certainly their best 45 since long before the World Cup.
45' - Babel limps off after seeming to tweak a hamstring playing a simple pass. He's replaced by Hertha Berlin's Javairo Dilrosun. There will be two additional minutes.
43' - Sane is enjoying himself. Now he dances along the touchline, with the Dutch defenders afraid to challenge in the box. But he can't quite find the right pass.
40' - Werner feeds Schulz on the overlap and the Hoffenheim man stands up a cross. Gnabry is flying in at the front post but can only flick it past the far stick.
37' - Sane drives inside and sees his shot blocked then tries, and just fails, to combine with Kimmich in the box. There's been an urgency about Germany again tonight, which is good to see after they looked so stale in Russia.
35' - Almost spoke too soon there. Blind clips in a cross from the left which Süle diverts on to the top of his own net. Neuer probably had it covered but that was as close as the visitors have come.
33' - It's pretty quiet on the pitch and very quiet in the stands.
29' - The visitors win another corner, this time off Kroos. Depay swings it in but Kehrergets rid at the front post.
25' - It took Sane 16 games to open his Germany account, but he's now got two in two.
22' - Another excellent goal. Kroos picked up a ball in his own half and lazered it over the Dutch defense right in to Sane's path. The winger's first touch took him the wrong way, but he bought himself half a yard and fired across the keeper. It did get a slight deflection but a beautifully simple goal all the same.
19' GOAL! Germany 2 - 0 Netherlands (Sane)
19' - The pitch, which looks very much like it has just been relaid, is proving a little problematic for players at times, the pace of it doesn't look consistent.
15' - The Netherlands win a succession of set pieces: first a wide free kick, then a corner and finally a free kick on the line of the 'D' after Hummels ploughed in to a challenge on the edge of the box. Hummels is booked and Depay's effort is blocked by the wall.
12' - Werner and Sane both had glimpses after the goal and the hosts look confident. As with the first half against Russia, the pace of both play and players makes them look so much more dangerous.
9' - An excellent strike from the Leipzig man. Gnabry turned a forward ball round the corner and the number 9 took one touch and lashed it home on the bounce from about 22 yards. He took that one early which seemed to surprise Cillessen.
9' - GOAL! Germany 1 - 0 Netherlands (Werner)
8' - The Dutch have their first little spell but Kimmich robs his man and almost gets Sane in behind down the left. A bit of height on that and the winger was through.
5' - Kimmich and Kehrer combine and the latter buys a corner. Van Dijk clears before Germany fail to recycle possession effectively.
3' - Germany have started nicely, Werner turned sharply to slip in Kehrer, who blazed over after 30 seconds. The men in white have seen most of the ball so far.
1' - Löw and Koeman shake hands, the players, both mustachioed and non-mustachioed, mumble the anthems and then the hosts get us underway.
20:39 - Our man in Gelsenkirchen says it's quiet at the Veltins Arena tonight.
20:35 - A quick look at the Dutch side then. Ronald Koeman’s men have an excellent central defensive pairing in Virgil van Dijk and Matthijas de Ligt, a red hot forward in Memphis Depay and a mix of old pros and talented youngsters, like midfielder Frenkie de Jong, elsewhere. They look a team on the up.
20:30 - Hello, and welcome to what looks like a fascinating contest. When the Nations League started, these two sides might've expected their roles to be reversed but it's the Oranje who have a chance to join England, Portugal and Switzerland in the finals next June just months after missing out on the World Cup.
And, though Germany will definitely be in Group B next time around, they could be further punished with a difficult qualifying group for the 2020 Euros if things don't go their way tonight. Germany must better Poland's result against Portugal to avoid being seeded second for the tournament. Much more on the mathematical ins and outs of that in our preview for this one. This is no dead rubber.
After a bright first half against Russia on Thursday, Joachim Löw sticks with the pace of Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry and Timo Werner at the sharp end, drops Kai Havertz for Toni Kroos and recalls Mats Hummels at the back. Nico Schulz also comes in at left wing back for Jonas Hector. There's no place in the starting XI for Thomas Müller, who could win his 100th cap tonight or Marco Reus, who has been nursing a knock. Both are among the substitutes.