It was a seasoned performance by the Louis van Gaal side, much to the delight of Dutch fans at Khalifa International Stadium yesterday.
The Netherlands performance also ended the United States World Cup dream, entering the quarter-finals with a 3-1 win. The USA battled hard but lacked a cutting edge as first-half goals from Memphis Depay and Daley Blind and a late strike from Denzel Dumfries sealed the deal. USA started the game looking positive but since then, the Louis van Gaal boys who have a commanding 2-0 lead at the break, have tactically outsmarted the Americans.
The Netherlands, in search of their first World Cup title after losing in three previous finals, will face Argentina in the quarter-finals at Lusail Stadium on Friday.
“We always want to improve and, since the start of the tournament, it’s been getting better and better with each game,” Louis van Gaal said.
Louis van Gaal has now gone eleven World Cup games in charge without defeat, second only to Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari as a coach to never lose on the grand stage. “I was very critical at half-time. We were in the lead 2-0. However we suffered in the first half, we were dispossessed so often and that’s not acceptable at a World Cup. If you play like that against top countries you won’t make it.”
The US had the game’s golden chance when Christian Pulisic was denied by the legs of Dutch goalkeeper Andries Noppert in the fourth minute and the failure to take that opportunity proved highly expensive. And after that, the United States did just what the Netherlands wanted them to.
In the 10th minute Coady Gakpo, who scored in the first three group games, made space for Depay to blow past the United States midfield to finish the chance created by Denzel Dumfries. Again before the half, a fullback Sergino Dest was caught flat-footed for Daley Blind to finish in a fullback to fullback goal that drove home the Dutch style of play.
Changes came at halftime with Gio Reyna entering for Jesus Ferreira but that wasn’t enough to get back into the game. Haji Wright pulled one back from a Netherlands collapse before Dumfries capped his excellent game with an 81st minute goal to put things out of sight.
Depay opened the scoring for Netherlands, slotting the ball into the net with a shot from inside the box. Right on the cusp of half-time, Daley Blind swept in Netherlands’ second to put his team 2-0 ahead. Haji Right pulled one back for USA in the second-half to instil some hope in the hearts of fans. Just minutes later, Denzel Dumfries scored his first goal of the tournament to seal the deal.
This is the third consecutive exit from the last 16 for the USA. In 2014 and 2010, they were knocked out in the pre-quarter-finals by Belgium and Ghana. “When you look at the difference between the two teams, there was some offensive finishing quality that Holland had that we were lacking,” USA coach Gregg Berhalter said. “We don’t have a Memphis Depay right now who’s scoring in the Champions League, playing for Barcelona, experienced at scoring at this level.”
The Americans were without Josh Sargent, who did not dress due to an ankle injury, and they missed his presence with the lack movement and space in attack. The USA, one of the unbeaten teams at the first round, have proven in Qatar they are capable of giving any side a run for their money.
In their Group B matches, USA defeated Iran 1-0, played a 1-1 draw with Wales and were involved in a 0-0 stalemate with England. USA played a much more attacking-minded and attractive brand of football compared with how they set up during their last two World Cup campaigns. With an average age of 24, the USA were one of the youngest teams at the World Cup. Many of the players of their squad are likely to remain in the team during the next World Cup cycle.
The experience gained could serve them well as they prepare to co-host the 2026 World Cup, alongside Mexico and Canada.
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