01/03/2024

Netherlands advance to the knock out stage undefeated in group stage matches. (Photo: FIFWORLDCUP/Twitter)

The Netherlands have locked in the top spot in Group A with a 2-0 victory over Qatar, as Cody Gakpo becomes the first Netherlands player to score in each group stage match.

Gakpo’s first of the tournament against Senegal to begin the World Cup was a clutch header in what was to be the winner, while in their last match against Ecuador, Gakpo would score with his left boot.

Against World Cup hosts Qatar, he cut inside the box with a right-foot goal completing his perfect three with a strike that landed in the bottom right corner to take the lead in the 26th minute.

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Netherlands’ passing and aggressive movement up the pitch would be their identity on both defence and attack.

Qatar struggled to capitalise on their attacking play as they pushed up the pitch, not having the support they needed when the wingers attempted to cross the ball into the box.

A lot of Qatar’s shot attempts took place outside of the box, with the Netherlands’ defence not having to turn on their backfoot.

A careless turnover in the 49th minute would lead to a Netherlands counter attack, landing at the feet of Memphis Depay. His shot attempt from point blank was saved before Frenkie De Jong pounced on the rebound and put it in the back of the net, with Pedro Miguel waiting too long to make a clearance.

Steven Berghuis would score in a 2-on-1 play against Qatar’s goalkeeper to extend the lead, however, the goal was overturned due to a handball in the build up from Gakpo.

Defensively, Qatar were overloaded by the Netherlands midfield and would be indecisive on who to play through when the ball was shifting on the inside, resulting in a slow build-up that would prove costly.

The Netherlands attack lead by Gakpo slowed down in the second half, as they cruised to victory with the knowledge they would be finishing on top of the group and informed to rest.

With the victory, the Netherlands claimed first position in Group A, with their next opponent being whoever finishes second in Group B.

Unfortunately for Qatar, their tournament was over before this game had begun and became the quickest departure of a home nation in 92 years.

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