Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk consoled a tearful referee at the end of his side's thrilling match with Germany after learning that the official's mother had died.

TV cameras captured the touching moment between Van Dijk and referee Ovidiu Hategan in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, yesterday after the defender secured a draw for his side.

As his Netherlands team-mates were celebrating around him, Van Dijk was seen walking over to the match official, who had gone about his work despite the recent bereavement.

Hategan's mother had passed away in the build up to the fixture, and Van Dijk wanted to share a few words of comfort after the referee shared his grief.


The pair exchanged words, before Van Dijk put his arm around the match official and pulled him into a tight embrace.

"He told me his mom recently passed away. He broke down and started crying. I consoled him and told him he refereed well. Its a small thing, but I hope it helped," Van Dijk said in the aftermath of the game.

"I wished him strength and said that he had done well."

Hategan, a 38-year-old Romanian referee hailing from Arad, became a FIFA-standard official in 2008.

In a journeying career across football, Hategan entered public consciousness in 2013 when he was accused of failing to follow correct protocol regarding incidents of a racist nature during a match at the Khimki Arena between Manchester City and CSKA Moscow.

In 2017 he was accused of 'baffling' decisions in the World Cup play-off between Northern Ireland and Switzerland, in a game which prompted Ireland boss Michael O'Neill to brand a penalty awarded to the Swiss 'the worst decision I've ever seen.'

Yesterday's fixture was the first Nations League tie officiated by Hategan, who also has three previous UEFA Champions League games to his name.

Van Dijk was the hero on the pitch as he helped Holland salvage a last gasp point against Germany to progress in the UEFA Nations League.


Van Dijk was the man of the moment after volleying home in the first minute of stoppage time, to see his nation progress to the semi-finals of the tournament.

Holland had fallen two goals behind in the game, and looked set to see their recent run of good form come to an end.

Timo Werner opened the scoring for the hosts, before Manchester City's Leroy Sane slotted home a second.

Holland stayed resilient however, finding a way back into the contest and a glimmer of hope courtesy of Quincy Promes.

It was in the final moments of the tie when Van Dijk showed his captain capabilities, taking up position in the opposition box as a cross was swung in.

Germany initially appeared to have cleared the danger, only for the ball to drop around the penalty spot and be expertly volleyed home by the waiting Van Dijk.

"We played a very good first half and should have scored a third in the second half to finish the game," said under-fire Germany boss Joachim Low in the aftermath of the game.

"But this kind of thing seems to be the story of our entire year."