Germany coach Joachim Loew said his team played below their best after goals from Frenkie de Jong and Georginio Wijnaldum saw the Netherlands inflict a 4-2 defeat on their old rivals in Hamburg on Friday.
A goal down for much of the game, the Dutch fought back in an explosive second half, as the two neighbours renewed their rivalry again in their fourth meeting in the last 11 months.
"We are disappointed with the result but the Netherlands were the better side," said Loew.
"We played below our technical level and lost possession a lot. That allowed them to apply pressure."
Dutch coach Ronald Koeman said the Germans had looked "tired", and had only taken the lead because his side had made errors.
Koeman's side came into the game under pressure. Three points from their opening two games meant that defeat would see them slip nine points adrift of the automatic qualification spots in Group C.
Germany, by contrast, were in good spirits. A 3-2 win over the Dutch in Amsterdam last March had dispelled the last of their World Cup blues, and Joachim Loew's new-look young side arrived in Hamburg brimming with confidence.
Serge Gnabry, a key player in the team's revival whom Loew had declared undroppable ahead of the game, gave his side the lead with a poacher's finish on nine minutes.
The Bayern Munich winger pounced on the rebound after Jasper Cillessen beat away a close-range shot from Lukas Klostermann.
The goal, Gnabry's fifth in six games for Germany, remained the only highlight in a cagey first half.
- Dutch exploit German weaknesses -
The game opened up as Germany probed for a second just after the break, but it was the Dutch who took advantage, gratefully exploiting the newfound gaps in the hosts' back line.
De Jong grabbed the equaliser just before the hour mark, picking up a Ryan Babel cross and dancing away from Nico Schulz before wrongfooting Neuer from point-blank range.
Minutes later, the Dutch were ahead, after some penalty-box pinball at a corner ended with Jonathan Tah bundling the ball into his own net.
Briefly stunned, the Germans were given a lifeline when a disoriented De Ligt accidentally brought down a high ball with his outstretched hand in the box.
Toni Kroos smashed home the resulting penalty to level the scores, but Koeman's side were irresistible in attack.
Pouncing on a mistake from Matthias Ginter, they carved through Germany in the 79th minute, and Donyell Malen slotted home at the end of a sumptuous move.
Wijnaldum and Depay linked up on the counter-attack to add a fourth in inury-time.
Victory sees the Netherlands narrow the gap between themselves and Germany to just three points, having played a game less than their rivals.
It also ensures that Northern Ireland remain top of the group ahead of their meeting with Germany in Belfast on Monday, a game which Loew said was now a must-win affair.
"I expect a reaction from the team. We need to beat Northern Ireland."