Fifa World Cup 2022: Netherlands cruise into World Cup knockout phase2 min read
Netherlands have cruised through to the last 16 of the World Cup with a 2-0 win over Qatar at the Al Bayt Stadium.
The three-time runners-up went into the game knowing that a win over the tournament hosts would seal their place in the knockout stages, regardless of the result between Ecuador and Senegal.
However, as a result of Senegal beating and eliminating Ecuador, goals from Cody Gakpo and Frenkie de Jong ensured that Netherlands finished in top spot in Group A, setting up a showdown with the runners-up of Group B on Saturday.
Netherlands soon set about putting their opponents under pressure, with Daley Blind the first player to draw a save out of Meshaal Barsham from an acute angle.
Oranje continued to look sharp in the final third of the pitch, their quick exchanges troubling the host nation, and Memphis Depay was the next to go close, firing a volley over the crossbar after benefitting from a ricochet.
While Netherlands were dominating, Qatar were still having their moments, and a couple of corners in succession led to Abdelkarim Hassan firing over the crossbar with a volley.
However, that sparked Netherlands back into life and Gakpo would net for the third successive game with another tremendous finish, the in-demand PSV Eindhoven receiving a short pass from Davy Klaassen, taking a touch forward and drilling a low shot into the bottom corner from 16 yards out.
Qatar attempted to respond immediately, a weaving run from Ismaeel Mohammad resulting in a weak shot at Andries Noppert, but the remainder of the opening period lacked the intensity which preceded the goal.
With Senegal beating Ecuador in the other game, Netherlands were progressing as group winners as it stood, but they remained focused and soon doubled their advantage after the break.
After Depay’s close-range volley was superbly kept out by Barsham, De Jong reacted fastest to poke home the rebound from no more than a yard.
With the game in their full control, Louis van Gaal replaced Klaassen and Depay after the hour mark and their replacements – Steven Berguis and Vincent Janssen – thought they had combined to add to Netherlands’ lead.
However, despite Janssen teeing up Berghuis for an easy tap-in, a handball from Gakpo in the build-up led to the correct intervention of VAR.
At the same time that there was drama in the other game, this fixture was petering out to an inevitable conclusion, something which suited Netherlands as they bid to retain their energy levels.
Berghuis’s luck remained out in six minutes of added-on time, the playmaker seeing a beautiful curling effort strike from the edge of the area hit the crossbar with Barsham well beaten.