Cody Gakpo of the Netherlands celebrates scoring the opening purpose in opposition to Senegal. AP
Doha: Late targets by Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaassen gave the Netherlands a 2-0 victory over African champions Senegal on Monday on their return to the World Cup stage.
With Senegal lacking injured star man Sadio Mane and the Dutch with out their fundamental attacking menace Memphis Depay at kick-off, the Group A encounter in Doha seemed set to finish in a goalless draw.
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However with simply six minutes remaining PSV Eindhoven ahead Gakpo bought up in entrance of Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to go in a floated Frenkie de Jong cross from the left.
Substitute Klaassen then secured the victory deep in harm time, following as much as rating after Mendy had saved from Depay, who had additionally come off the bench.
“I all the time had the sensation we had been going to attain a purpose,” mentioned Van Gaal, who’s in his third spell as coach of the nationwide staff.
“It was an environment friendly win however I additionally thought we had been fitter as a result of each two minutes the Senegalese had been mendacity on the bottom.
“So I believe it was a well-deserved victory even when I don’t assume it was a superb match from us.”
The end result leaves the Netherlands degree on the high of the group with Ecuador, who beat hosts Qatar 2-0 within the event’s opening match on Sunday.
Van Gaal’s aspect play Ecuador on Friday, whereas Senegal now face a must-win contest in opposition to Qatar.
Senegal noticed Bayern Munich famous person Mane — who got here second on this 12 months’s Ballon d’Or — pull out of the squad with a leg harm on the eve of the event.
His absence was clearly felt as the competition at Al Thumama Stadium — performed out to the backdrop of the continuous drumming and dancing of the Senegal assist, but in addition in entrance of a substantial variety of empty seats — by no means lived as much as its billing.
“I don’t assume the scoreline is a good reflection of the sport and I’m actually pleased with my boys,” insisted Senegal coach Aliou Cisse, who noticed each Abdou Diallo and Cheikhou Kouyate come off harm within the second half.
Everton midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye got here closest to scoring for Senegal with a strike on the half-volley from the sting of the field that was overwhelmed away by Netherlands goalkeeper Andries Noppert within the 73rd minute.
‘Dream debut’ for Noppert
Noppert, the large Heerenveen goalkeeper who was making his worldwide debut, additionally excelled with saves from Boulaye Dia and Pape Gueye within the second half because the Netherlands performed their first World Cup recreation in eight years.
“It was a boyhood dream for me to play at a World Cup however I by no means thought it might be attainable,” Noppert, who’s 28, advised Dutch broadcaster NOS.
The Oranje had been semi-finalists below Van Gaal in Brazil in 2014 earlier than failing to qualify for the final World Cup in Russia in 2018.
The Dutch staff was captained by Virgil van Dijk, who was making his debut at a significant worldwide event on the event of his fiftieth cap.
With Matthijs de Ligt and Nathan Ake alongside him, they had been principally comfy on the again however had created little going ahead earlier than Barcelona ahead Depay -– who scored 12 occasions in qualifying -– got here on for the ultimate half-hour.
With Depay not capable of begin after spending two months on the sidelines, it fell to former Tottenham Hotspur striker Vincent Janssen to spearhead the Netherlands assault however he didn’t make a significant impression.
But Gakpo lastly broke the impasse and, as Senegal pushed for an equaliser, Depay performed his half in Ajax midfielder Klaassen’s purpose that clinched the factors within the ninth added minute.
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