The Netherlands bid farewell to Qatar to reach the round of 16



Al Khor: Cody Gakpo scored again as the Netherlands booked their place in the World Cup last 16 as group winners with a 2-0 straight win over hosts Qatar on Tuesday.

The Netherlands, needing just one point to be sure of a lead, put one foot into the next round within the first half hour as Gakpo scored for the third consecutive match in the group. Frenkie de Jong added another in the 49th minute as the Dutch sailed flat at Al Bayt Stadium.

Qatar, already eliminated before kick-off, suffered the infamy of being the first home team in World Cup history to finish the group stage without a point. The Dutch team, led by Louis van Gaal, finished with seven points at the top of Group A, while Senegal joined it in the knockout rounds as the runner-up, after beating Ecuador 2-1.

The orange team will next meet the second-placed team from Group B in the quarter-finals at Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday. England currently top this section and play Wales later on Tuesday, while the United States play Iran. The four teams are still in search of qualification.

The Dutch have made a strong start as they look to put the disappointment of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia firmly behind them. Qatar exited the much-anticipated home World Cup finals with a whimper, securing their place in the record books as the worst ever host on the pitch.

Van Gaal managed to give Memphis Depay his first start in the tournament as the Barcelona star continued his return to full fitness after a hamstring injury. It didn’t take long for the Dutch to get past the Qatar defence, although Daley Blind could only bring home a fourth-minute effort from goalkeeper Mishal Barsham.

The opening goal arrived in the 26th minute as Davey Claassen played in Jakpo after a great move that also featured Depay. The PSV Eindhoven winger surged forward and curled a low shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area for his third goal of the tournament.

The three-time World Cup runner-up took advantage of Qatar’s poor defense to double its advantage four minutes after the end of the first half. Barcham denied Depay from close range but De Jong reacted faster than a peppy Pedro Miguel to slot the ball home from barely a yard away.

Substitute Stephen Burgess thought he had added a third midway through the second half, only to have his goal disallowed after a VAR check for a handball from Jakpo in the build-up. Enthusiasm prevailed among some of the remaining home fans late on when Mohamed Muntari pushed the ball into the net, but the whistle went on long ago due to a foul on Virgil van Dijk. The Netherlands almost piled more misery on Qatar in stoppage time when Berges’s fine strike from distance hit the crossbar.


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