Netherlands had little difficulty seeing off Gibraltar in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier as their crushing 7-0 victory saw them meet coach Frank de Boer’s pre-match expectations.
The Oranje were subject to criticism despite beating Latvia 2-0 in Saturday’s meeting, with De Boer demanding a more clinical performance in Gibraltar, and that was exactly what he got.
Just as Latvia goalkeeper Roberts Ozols impressed at the weekend, Dayle Coleing proved a worthy adversary between the posts for Gibraltar until his goal was eventually breached just before half-time – Steven Berghuis netting in successive games for his country.
Luuk de Jong made it 2-0 with a well-taken finish early in the second half and the floodgates opened, with Memphis Depay, Georginio Wijnaldum and Donyell Malen all scoring in the following nine minutes.
Although a lull followed, Donny van de Beek and Depay added further gloss late on as the Dutch strolled to victory in Group G.
Unsurprisingly the Oranje were in control right from the start but their attempts to make an early breakthrough were unsuccessful as Coleing rose to the occasion.
The Gibraltar goalkeeper then watched gratefully as Denzel Dumfries headed wide in the 25th minute, before scooping away Davy Klaassen’s close-range effort in unorthodox fashion as the hosts looked set to hold out until the break.
But Netherlands finally found a way through a minute later, Berghuis producing an emphatic finish into the top-left corner after the ball broke kindly for him in the crowded penalty area.
De Boer lost Daley Blind to injury early in the second half, though it had little impact on the dominant visitors and De Jong made it 2-0 less than 60 seconds later, steering in from Berghuis’ delivery.
Depay’s free-kick took a wicked deflection en route to the bottom-right corner for the Dutch’s third in the 61st minute, and that was soon followed by Wijnaldum slamming in from 10 yards after Coleing parried the Liverpool man’s header straight back to him.
Malen, brought on for Blind, got in on the act with a simple finish from Klaassen’s squared pass.
Although the tempo dropped significantly after their fifth goal, Netherlands did add the extras in the final 10 minutes – Van de Beek took advantage of a kind bounce before converting from close range, and Depay turned in Owen Wijndal’s drilled cross soon after.
What does it mean? De Boer’s demands met but critics will not be perturbed
De Boer did not mince his words before this game – he was honest and demanding in his expectations when he said: “We need to score at least five times, but preferably more.”
Well, they certainly achieved that as they ran out 7-0 winners, with 16 of their 35 shots hitting the target. It was the kind of one-sided margin fans will have expected.
But such a victory will buy De Boer no extra slack from supporters and critics. A big win was the minimum here – he will need to do more to gain true backing.
Berghuis a catalyst
While we should not go over the top in praise for the Netherlands, given some of the Gibraltar players are not regulars at professional level, Berghuis played an important role. His six key passes were the most of anyone on the pitch and one of those created De Jong’s goal. He also ended the Gibraltar resistance with a lovely effort to make it 1-0.
Coleing leaves with his head held high
Gibraltar’s goalkeeper endured an unfortunately cruel end to his night as injury forced him off in the second half with the score at 5-0. Despite letting in so many goals, it is fair to say he made some impressive saves – seven in total – and the scoreline would have been far worse had he been shakier.
Netherlands will return to action at the end of the club season with pre-Euro 2020 friendlies, though their exact opponents are yet to be confirmed. Their next World Cup qualifier is against Norway in September, when Gibraltar are also next scheduled to play – they will meet Latvia.