Denzel Dumfries set up the first two goals and netted a decisive third to ensure a 3-1 victory for the Netherlands over the United States at the Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday and a spot in the World Cup quarter-finals, thwarting its opponent’s efforts at a late comeback.
Dumfries ended any hopes the Americans had of staging a rescue act after they had gone 2-0 down at half time, but the United States fought back to reduce the deficit through Haji Wright in the 76th minute.
The Dutch had looked to be comfortably in command of the opening Round of 16 tie in front of 44,846 spectators with two goals scored in similar fashion as Dumfries crossed from the right for Depay to net first in the 10th minute, and then Blind on the stroke of halftime.
But Wright pulled a goal back to offer the Americans hope of a comeback.
That lasted only five minutes, however, before Dumfries sealed a man-of-the-match perormance with his 81st-minute goal, tucking away Blind’s cross from the left.
But despite advancing to its seventh World Cup quarter-final since 1974, it was another Dutch performance at the Qatar World Cup that will not please their demanding supporters.
They were unsually cautious at times, played at a slow tempo, and lived dangerously as they allowed the Americans plenty of possession.
Yet they still looked a notch better than their opponents.
Cody Gakpo and Dumfries cleared off the line in the second half and goalkeeper Andries Noppert made several saves to keep a clean sheet as the Netherlands extended its unbeaten run since Louis van Gaal returned as coach last year to 19 games.
The Dutch survived an early scare when Christian Pulisic found himself free, and onside, with just the goalkeeper to beat but Noppert, the tallest man at the World Cup, stuck out his right leg to deny a shock opener.
The response from the Netherlands was swift. A series of 20 slick passes ended with Dumfries squaring the ball from right, pulling it back into the path of Depay, who delayed his run into the American penalty box and was unmarked as he smacked home the opener.
The lively start was quickly replaced with a more languid passage of play, the Dutch sitting back as they waited for counter attack chances.
That presented opportunity for the Americans with Noppert forced to save again from Timothy Weah’s driving shot and Sergio Dest breaking through the defence but unable to get the ball out from under his feet and missing a good opportunity near the end of the first half.
Those missed opportunities were swiftly punished as Dutch broke again down the right and scored a carbon copy of the first goal when Dumfries pulled back his cross for 32-year-old left back Daley Blind to score in his 98th international.
Depay broke away after the break and looked odds-on to provide substitute Steven Bergwijn with the chance to make it 3-0 but played in a poor pass, followed by an American raid up the other end where Gakpo denied Tim Ream from close range.
Dumfries was in the right place to deny Wright in the 75th minute but could do little about the American goal as Pulisic’s cross hit Wright on the heel and the ball looped into the net.
But in the end Dumfries proved decisive for the Dutch to move on to their next challenge against either Argentina or Australia in the last eight next Friday.
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