Dutch bounce back but still looking up at Turkey, Montenegro

Sports Desk, Mar 27 (efe-epa).- The Netherlands rebounded Saturday from an embarrassing loss to Turkey in their opening World Cup qualifier to best Latvia 2-0 in Amsterdam.

Even so, the Dutch, who failed to reach the 2018 World Cup, remain third in Group G behind still-perfect Turkey and Montenegro.

The hosts had the run of the field, enjoying 77 percent possession and outshooting the Latvians 36-4. The margin of victory would have been much bigger but for the impressive performance of visiting goalkeeper Roberts Ozols and some poor finishing by the shooters.

While Netherlands coach Frank de Boer would have been heartened by the positive result after last week’s 4-2 thrashing in Istanbul, the number of chances missed by his men will be a source of concern going forward.

Cheering on the home side were some 5,000 supporters in the stands, admitted to Johan Cruyff Arena on condition of presenting proof of a negative Covid-19 test.

Memphis Depay showed a surplus of ambition over quality in the early, with four fruitless attempts on the Latvian goal in the space of eight minutes.

Meanwhile, Steven Berghuis sent cross after cross into the box from the left side. Davy Klaassen got his head to one of those passes and only the cross-bar stopped him.

The seemingly inevitable goal finally materialized in the 32nd minute as Barcelona man Frenkie de Jong advanced to the edge of the area before laying off for Klaassen, who relayed the ball to Berghuis for the 1-0.

The cross-bar intervened again eight minutes later to prevent Luuk de Jong from doubling the advantage for the Netherlands.

Depay and Gino Wijnaldum tested Ozols early in the second half before De Jong beat the Latvian keeper in the 69th minute to make it 2-0.

Buoyed by their commanding victory the Dutch, Turkey pounded Norway 3-0 Saturday in a contest played in the Spanish resort city of Malaga.

The Turks surged ahead in the 4th minute on a goal by Ozan Tufan – the first of two – and led by two at the break courtesy of Caglar Soyuncu’s effort in the 28th.

Tufan completed his brace just before the hour mark.

Norway, who were down a man for the last 10 minutes after Kristian Thorstvedt picked up a red card for a reckless challenge, managed only one shot on target despite having 58 percent possession.

Norway’s budding superstar, 20-year-old striker Erling Haaland, was not a factor in the contest.

In Podgorica, Montenegro routed Gibraltar 4-1 on goals by Fatos Beciraj, Marko Simic, Zarko Tomasevic and Steven Jovetic. Reece Styche converted a penalty for the visitors.

Turkey and Montenegro are level on points at 6, but the Turks lead the group on goal difference. The Dutch and Norwegians have 3 points apiece. EFE


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