Cody Gakpo Celebrates Opening Goal for the Netherlands
PSV forward Cody Gakpo netted his third goal in three games to help the Netherlands cruise past lowly Qatar who became the first side to host and lose all three World Cup matches.
Qatar become the first host nation to lose all three of their World Cup group games ? pic.twitter.com/bHRp5UARZ6— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) November 29, 2022
The win signalled that the Netherlands will top Group A with 7 points from three games.
For Qatar, the tournament ended as it started with a loss at the Al Bayt Stadium, and the Gulf state will now have to focus on its role as host as it seeks to plot a future for football in the country after paying billions to stage the World Cup.
It was by no means a classic performance by the Dutch, who finished with seven points from their three group games and will be joined in the last 16 by Senegal, who knocked out Ecuador by beating them 2-1 to end up second on six points.
Gakpo proved the difference once again but he was keen to share the spotlight with his teammates.
"We're through, that's what today was all about. I think we were better on the ball than in recent games, we had a little more control," he said.
In truth, the Dutch never had to get out of second gear against the hosts, who had their moments in a dull first half.
With late arrivals filling the stands just after kickoff, the Qataris had a couple of corners and threatened on the edge of the Netherlands area but no sooner had they bared their teeth than they were hit with a gut-punch of a goal by Gakpo.
Davy Klaassen played an inviting ball into the path of the 23-year-old and he received it at pace, slicing through the heart of the defence before dispatching a well-placed shot past Meshaal Barsham to open the scoring in the 26th minute.
Dutch striker Memphis Depay made his first tournament start, and the pedestrian pace of much of the game suited him as he sought to shake off the rust after his injury worries.
Four minutes into the second half the Netherlands struck again as a cross from Klaassen made its way to Depay and the Qatari defence was caught ball-watching as his shot was saved, allowing Frenkie de Jong to bundle it into the net.
With Qatar lacking the quality to mount a comeback, the Dutch had a goal ruled out after Gakpo was judged to have handled in the build-up and substitute Steven Berghuis hit the bar late on, but they still coasted to victory.