Gakpo on target again as Oranje clinch place in World Cup last 16
Cody Gakpo scored his goal in three matches as the Netherlands cruised into the World Cup knock-out stages with a 2-0 win over Qatar.
Frenkie de Jong added a second after half-time as Louis van Gaal’s side were rarely troubled by the host nation, who finished bottom of Group A with three straight defeats.
As expected, Memphis Depay started the match for the first time in the World Cup, with Gakpo playing alongside him and Davy Klaassen in the space behind the front two.
The Dutch struggled to break down a well organised Qatari defence initially, but after 26 minutes Klaassen threaded through a pass for Gakpo to fire past Qatari goalkeeper Mehsaal Barsham.
De Jong tapped in the second five minutes into the second half when Barsham was unable to deal with Depay’s close-range shot, following a good cross from Klaassen.
Substitute Steven Berghuis thought he had added a third shortly after replacing Klaassen in the 65th minute, but the VAR panel spotted a handball by Gakpo in the build-up.
Berghuis came close to putting a gloss on the scoreline in injury time when his curling shot from the edge of the penalty hit the top of the crossbar.
Dutch coach Louis van Gaal said after the game he had seen an improvement in Oranje after their first two ties.
‘We were much more careful in possession and I think we saw two nice goals,’ he said at the post match press conference. ‘In the end we did what we had to do.’
Nevertheless, he said, some players are still not on form, including Memphis Depay. ‘But if we want to become world champions, Depay has to play,’ Van Gaal said.
The Dutch will play the USA in the round of 16 on Saturday following the Americans’ 1-0 win against Iran on Tuesday evening.
In the other match in Group A, African champions Senegal beat Ecuador 2-1 to go through as runners-up and earn a last-16 tie against England on Sunday.
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