Asia FIFA World Cup

Gakpo Stars as the Netherlands Saw Off Qatar

In-form Cody Gakpo once again became the standout performer for the Netherlands as De Oranje saw off Qatar 2-0 to conclude their Group A campaign, qualifying into the World Cup knockouts as group winners.

Qatar had already suffered the ignominy of being only the second World Cup host to be knocked out in the group stages, and their two consecutive defeats at the hands of Ecuador and Senegal made them the earliest World Cup host to be eliminated from the tournament.

The Netherlands, on the other hand, came into Tuesday’s tie at the Al-Bayt Stadium with high hopes of securing qualification out of Group A. They may have failed to qualify for Russia 2018, but in Qatar 2022 the Netherlands showed the world that they are still indeed a footballing powerhouse.

PSV Eindhoven winger Gakpo became the first Dutch player to score in his first three World Cup matches in the 26th minute, finishing off a Davy Klaassen pass to hand the Netherlands the advantage. The goal itself was built from an excellent team move between the Netherlands players, a testament of their quality on the pitch.

Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong then confirmed the Netherlands’ victory in the 49th minute, shattering any hopes of a Qatari comeback with a simple poke into the goal.

It could’ve been more for the Netherlands, however substitute Steven Berghuis had a goal ruled out for a Gakpo handball in the buildup as well as an effort striking the Qatari crossbar.

Group A’s other match on Tuesday saw Senegal dumping Ecuador out of the World Cup with a 2-1 victory at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Ismaila Sarr gave African champions Senegal with a 44th minute penalty, before Brighton & Hove Albion’s Moises Caicedo scored Ecuador’s equalizer in the 67th minute.

The stalemate only lasted for three minutes, though, as Chelsea’s Kalidou Koulibaly confidently thumped in Senegal’s winning goal in the 70th minute with a powerful volley.

The win ensured that Senegal would finish second in Group A, behind the Netherlands. The Africans will take on Group B winners England in the round of 16, while the Netherlands will face-off against Group B runners-up the United States.