Netherlands snuff out USA comeback to advance to quarterfinals
The Netherlands are through to the quarterfinals of the Qatar 2022 World Cup after stopping a potential comeback from the USA and beating them 3-1 in the last 16 at the Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday.
Memphis Depay put the Dutch up 1-0 after ten minutes, terminating an impressive 20-pass move when Denzel Dumfries cut the ball back to him near the edge of the area.
Then, on the stroke of half time, Daley Blind scored in his 98th cap to double the lead as the Netherlands executed a slick move from a throw-in that again saw Dumfries provide for his teammates.
The USA battled hard and looked to be set for a comeback when Haji Wright scored with a curious flick on 76 minutes.
Six minutes later, however, Dumfries capped off a strong display with a volley from close range to make it 3-1.
The USA, who were the youngest team at the tournament, kept on pushing for a second goal but to no avail.
The match drew to a finish after six minutes of stoppage time, and the Netherlands now look ahead to a quarterfinal meeting against either Australia or Argentina next Friday evening.
The Dutch suffered an early scare when Christian Pulisic beat the offside trip within three minutes but could not convert past Andries Noppert despite being clear on goal.
Keeping the Chelsea midfielder quiet was one of the keys to victory for the Netherlands, and the USA clearly struggled without his influence.
The Americans in fact enjoyed more shots on target (eight) than their opponents (six), but an over-dependence on Pulisic and the lack of a thoroughbred number ‘9’ showed as Wright took a touch too much and had a strong chance blocked off the line before his consolation goal.
Weakness down the right flank was also costly, with Dumfries allowed free reign and able to put in a Player of the Match performance.
Two assists, one goal-line clearance, one goal.Denzel Dumfries did it all today 😤 pic.twitter.com/4RAymrnAdY— B/R Football (@brfootball) December 3, 2022
With one goal and two assists, the Inter Milan star is just one of three players to be directly involved in three or more goals in a World Cup match for the Dutch after Rob Rensenbrink did it twice in 1978 and Johan Cruijff once in 1974.
The Netherlands reached the final in both of those years, and Van Gaal has promised a similar showing in Qatar while defending his team from journalists he believes have called them “boring.”
Here the Dutch were anything but, and often showed Cruyffian philosophy and Total Football at its very best.