Netherlands 2-0 Qatar: Gakpo grabs another goal as Oranje top Group A
Cody Gakpo scored in a third consecutive World Cup match as the Netherlands eased into the knockout stage by beating Qatar 2-0 to top Group A.
PSV attacker Gakpo has been one of the breakout stars of the tournament and impressed again at Al Bayt Stadium, setting the Oranje on their way to victory with a clinical 26th-minute strike.
As Senegal defeated Ecuador elsewhere, a further goal from Frenkie de Jong made sure of a straightforward victory to clinch first place in the pool.
Gakpo likely would not have had such a prominent role thus far if not for Memphis Depay's hamstring injury, but the pair started together on Tuesday and will now aim to link up again in the last 16 against the Group B runners-up.
The Netherlands immediately looked more threatening for having Depay in the line-up, although he failed to get a shot away in an early scramble in the box, leading Daley Blind to aim tamely at Meshaal Barsham, and soon lashed over.
It was Gakpo who instead delivered the goods once more following a lovely move, laying the ball off to Davy Klaassen and taking the return to fire a firm finish into the bottom-right corner.
Dreadful defending from Qatar then allowed Louis van Gaal's men to double their lead four minutes into the second half as Barsham blocked from Depay but De Jong was able to beat two men to the rebound in front of the goal line.
A third for Steven Berghuis was ruled out for a handball by Gakpo in the build-up, with the substitute also hitting the bar in stoppage time, but events in the other match meant the Netherlands' position was never under threat.
What does it mean? Oranje go on the offensive
The Netherlands had attempted only 12 shots worth a combined 0.8 expected goals across their first two matches, outperforming only Costa Rica in each metric.
Qatar made for accommodating opponents on Tuesday, but Depay's return alongside Gakpo led to a far more dangerous display. The Oranje produced 13 attempts worth 1.6 xG in this game alone.
Another crucial Gakpo goal
Any Netherlands nerves were eased by another opening goal from Gakpo, who had broken the deadlock against both Senegal and Ecuador.
He is the fourth Oranje player to net in three straight World Cup appearances and only the second player from any nation to open the scoring three times in the same group stage at a finals, along with Italy's Alessandro Altobelli in the first round in 1986.
Unwanted records for hosts
In conceding seven goals in the group stage and losing three matches, Qatar set new records for hosts at a World Cup finals. This was not the sort of history they set out to make 10 days ago.
Key Opta Stats:
- Netherlands have progressed from their first-round group in all nine attempts at the World Cup; this is the best 100 per cent opening group record by any nation at the finals.
- The Oranje have won eight of their last nine group-stage games at the World Cup, while in all rounds, they are now unbeaten in their last 10 at the tournament (W7 D3).
- Gakpo became the first player to score in all three matches in a single group at a World Cup for the Netherlands, and first to do so for any European nation since 2002 (Tomasson, Klose and Wilmots).
- De Jong scored only his second ever goal for the Netherlands, and first since September 2019 in a European Championship qualifier against Germany.
- Netherlands had more shots (13) and as many shots on target (4) in this match against Qatar as they attempted in their first two 2022 World Cup games against Senegal and Ecuador combined (12 shots, 4 on target).
The Netherlands will learn the identity of their last-16 opponents later on Tuesday, as Qatar reflect on a gruelling first World Cup experience.