ROTTERDAM, November 17: Two late goals by Steven Bergwijn and Memphis Depay on Tuesday saw the Netherlands book a ticket to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, as they held Norway at bay with a 2-0 victory in Rotterdam.
Bergwijn, the standout player of the evening on the right wing, drilled the ball into the roof of the net following an assist by Arnaut Danjuma after a lacklustre 83 minutes that saw both sides struggle to create chances.
Bergwijn again played a key role in the Dutch’s second goal a few minutes later, after a counter-attack saw him run almost the length of the field before passing the ball to Depay, who slotted it past a diving Orjan Nyland.
Depay’s 12th goal of the qualifying campaign rounded off the evening for the Netherlands, who only needed a draw against Norway to finish top of Group G ahead of Turkey and the Norwegians.
“They stuck to the game plan, they were a lot more compact,” Dutch coach Louis van Gaal told the NOS public broadcaster.
Van Gaal admitted he was “worried that things could go wrong”, especially after the his side’s shocking 2-2 draw against Montenegro over the weekend when they let a two-goal lead slip in the final 10 minutes.
“But this evening we kept the match under control,” he added.
Both teams seemed indecisive at times in cold and rainy conditions at De Kuip and the match seemed set for the defences to come out on top.
Throughout the game the Oranje created more chances and Norway never really threatened the Dutch goal, manned by veteran ‘keeper Jasper Cillessen.
The hosts played with an added disadvantage after Van Gaal injured his hip after a fall on Sunday and was confined to a wheelchair up in the stands.
This saw Van Gaal constantly relaying instructions to his technical team next to the pitch.
The first real opportunity for the Netherlands came when the hard-working Danjuma saw a strike slide wide in the 26th minute.
This was followed by several shots and headers at goal by Depay, but all of whom went into the hands of Norwegian goalkeeper Nyland.
Stale Solbakken’s men clearly missed the presence of star striker Erling Haaland, sidelined because of injury.
Norway never troubled Cillessen and the closest they came was a desperate shot into the stands in the 88th minute.
Dutch captain Virgil van Dijk praised his team, saying: “It was a solid win, we almost gave nothing away.”
Barcelona forward Depay said it was “an emotional game”.
“We played with everything we had today and we are going to Qatar,” he said.
Wu Lei’s late penalty earns China draw with Australia in World Cup qualifier
China’s Wu Lei converted a second-half penalty to earn a 1-1 draw with Australia on Tuesday as Graham Arnold’s Socceroos went a third game in a row without a win in the final round of Asia’s preliminaries for next year’s World Cup.
The forward sent Mathew Ryan the wrong way 19 minutes from time after VAR intervened to award the Chinese side the penalty when the ball struck James Jeggo on the arm.
Mitchell Duke had put the Australians in front seven minutes before the interval, but the draw means Arnold’s team have not won since defeating Oman in October.
Australia remain in second place in Group B with 11 points from six matches but, with Japan facing Oman later on Tuesday, the Socceroos could relinquish that position by the end of the round. Japan have nine points and Oman seven.
China, who are looking to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since making their debut at the tournament in 2002, move onto five points but their hopes are dwindling despite the draw.
Duke gave Australia the lead when he rose above Zhu Chenjie to meet Martin Boyle’s cross from the right.
Wu got the chance to pull China level when Jeggo’s raised arm made contact with a lofted ball into the area and, after checking the pitchside monitor, referee Adham Makhadmeh pointed to the spot.
The top two teams from the group will qualify automatically for Qatar 2022 while the third-placed team will advance to a playoff round. (AFP/Agencies)