The Netherlands finished first in Group A at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, beating the hosts 2-0 on Tuesday. Cody Gakpo has helped himself to his third goal in as many matches this tournament as Frenkie de Jong has joined him on the scoresheet at Al Bayt Stadium.
Louis van Gaal’s men rarely looked flustered and it was a disappointing departure for Qatari manager Felix Sanchez given the chances the Maroons enjoyed. However, the Dutch showed the difference between simply having chances and actually exploiting them, scoring one goal in each half and clashing with Group B runners-up.
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Memphis Depay was reinstated to the starting lineup after an injury and immediately set to work to open his account, diligently showing the first results. Andries Noppert had to be on the other end as Qatar created a few chances but the Netherlands were mostly in control as they were camped in the home half for most of the first 45 matches.
The first goal came in the 26th minute when Davy Klaassen beat Gakpo, who still had a lot of work to do as he maneuvered through the space on the edge of the penalty area before taking the shot. Now it’s three goals out of as many games for breakout star PSV Eindhoven and Ajax’s Klaassen is also enjoying an underrated tournament with his goal and two assists.
Gakpo is already in demand by a number of the biggest clubs across Europe, so Ruud van Nistelrooy’s team will welcome a graduate from their youth academy, which will significantly increase his price. Three minutes into the second half, the score was 2-0, Memphis saw his efforts saved only for De Jong to pounce on the rebound and shoot.
“Memphis matters in this system,” Van Gaal said after the match. “Today he participated in the goals again. You can say whatever you want about him, but he’s incredibly important – I’m very pleased.”
The Barcelona midfielder scored a goal and provided an assist in this tournament and became one of the cornerstones of Van Gaal’s team. Although Steven Berghuis made it 3-0 just a few minutes into the second half, his effort from Vincent Janssen’s assist was scored by VAR.
The intensity and pace dropped over the remaining 20 minutes or so as the Dutch played the game out and Qatar had little to offer going forward. The hosts are leaving as one of the worst home nations in recent history, with South Africa at least winning a match in 2010 before they came out.
If the USMNT finishes second in Group B they will face the Netherlands while Iran and Wales can still hope to sneak in as England are in the lead. With Gregg Berhalter’s men leading their group, Senegal can wait for the US – and while you’re there, sign up for our new newsletter covering the great game in all its glory – including daily World Cup news – here.