The Netherlands surprised with two quick goals in the second half in their opening match against Senegal in Doha on Monday.
The Dutch managed to emerge victorious in a tightly contested match as their African counterparts showed resilience through 90 minutes.
Cody Gakpo scored towards the end of play time while substitute Davy Klaassen netted home the second one in injury time to beat Senegal 2-0 in their World Cup Group A opening match at Al Thumama Stadium.
The two sides had struggled to break the impasse until late in the match with the Dutch failing to score with several attempts at the goal.
“It was a difficult game and we were not careful with the ball… I think we can do a lot better but the victory obviously gives us a good feeling. We were clearly in search of a goal and eventually we got it,” said Gakpo after the match.
The Netherlands will meet Ecuador in their second match on November 25, while Senegal will play against Qatar on the same day.
Van Gaal hails ‘efficient’ Netherlands win against Senegal
Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal admitted he was not entirely satisfied after his team produced a late burst to beat Senegal 2-0 in their FIFA World Cup Group A match on Monday.
The Netherlands dominated for long stages of the first half but lacked a cutting edge in the final third at the Thumama Stadium. Senegal had several clear scoring chances in the second half before Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaassen struck in the last 15 minutes for the Dutch.
“It was an efficient victory,” Van Gaal told a post-match press conference. “We played the first half with poor decision-making when carrying the ball. But we still created five chances. In the second half the match was more balanced … (but) I was quite calm because I always had the feeling we would score.”
Van Gaal, who replaced Frank de Boer as Netherlands manager in June 2021, said his players benefitted from superior fitness, reports Xinhua.
“I would agree that it was an efficient victory but I thought we were fitter,” the 71-year-old said. “The Senegalese spent a lot of time lying on the ground which is why we had to play for an extra eight minutes [of stoppage time]. I will agree we were too shoddy in possession and it wasn’t a good game from us in that respect but it was a good defensive performance.”
He added: “It was a very tough match for us. We made some changes (in the second half) and put some players in different positions. A 2-0 victory against the champions of the Africa Cup means I can be very pleased.”
BLAME ME FOR DEFEAT: CISSE
Senegal manager Aliou Cisse said he accepted the blame after the Netherlands scored two late goals to defeat his team.
Cody Gakpo broke the deadlock with an 84th-minute header and substitute Davy Klaassen doubled the lead by firing home a first-time effort in the last minute of stoppage time.
“The coach is responsible for any defeat so perhaps I’m the one to blame,” Cisse told a post-match news conference at the Al Thumama Stadium.
“We’re disappointed at not having scored. We had three or four chances but you’ve got to be effective. We did create chances. We’ll take heart from that and we’ll try to improve in that respect.”
After a lacklustre first half, Senegal had four clear chances in the second. Boulaye Dia and Idrissa Gueye forced smart saves from Andries Noppert before Bamba Dieng and Pape Gueye thumped shots over the crossbar.
“I’m happy with my players and proud of the way we performed,” Cisse said. “Now we just have to get ready of the next match which will be vital if we are to continue in the competition.”
Senegal, already depleted by a leg injury to striker Sadio Mane that has ruled him out of the tournament, suffered a double blow when Abdou Diallo and Cheikhou Kouyate were forced off in the second half.
Cisse confirmed that Diallo has a muscle problem while Kouyate suffered a rolled ankle.
“They are important players for us and we have to try to get them right for the next two matches,” he added.
Wales draw with US after 64-year World Cup hiatus
An eventful second day of the World Cup in Qatar wrapped up with the match between US and Wales ending in a 1-1 draw at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, some 20 km from Doha.
While the Americans piled up pressure on the Welsh through the match giving scant ball possession as Timothy Weah scored in the 36th minute, Wales tried to make a comeback into the game in the second half.
Six yellow cards were shown by match referee Abdulrahman Al-Jassim in a match that saw several fouls and exchanges among players.
The star player of Wales, Gareth Bale, struck with a penalty in the 82nd minute to score the equaliser.
Wales have made it to the World Cup after a gap of 64 years. And it showed in the eyes of Welsh fans in the stands after Bale’s successful shot.
Earlier in the day, the Iranian team was under the spotlight as players remained silent as their national anthem was being played ahead of the match against England at the Khalifa International stadium in Doha.
There were also reports in the international media questioning the Iranian team’s decision not to evacuate their goalkeeper from the field after he suffered a bloody collision with his teammate. Alireza Beiranvand was substituted subsequently after suffering an injury in the eighth minute of the match. He was carried away from the field on a stretcher after unsuccessfully trying to play on after colliding with Hosseini Majid.
Iran lost to England 2-6. In a post-match press conference, Iran’s head coach Carlos Queiroz said his side deserved to lose as the players were no match for the pace of the English team members, Qatar news agency reported.
Coach page says Bale’s late penalty was a game-changer
Thanks to captain Gareth Bale’s late penalty, Wales held the United States to a 1-1 drew in their opening match of the FIFA World Cup. Wales head coach Rob Page called the valuable equaliser a real game-changer.
During the post-match press conference held at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Tuesday, Page said it was important not to lose the first game.
“The first game is important for us. We kept a draw, and now we just focus on the next game,” he said, adding that the Red Dragons showed character and determination to come back and get a point.
“(Bale)’s never let us down,” he said, reports Xinhua.
“He’s very good at finding those spaces, so he puts himself in those positions in the box to be able to get us penalties, and defenders commit to making tackles, and if they don’t get their timing right in the box, inevitably it’s a penalty,” he added.
Page conveyed confidence when speaking of the next two matches, particularly the game against Group B favourites England.
“If you look on the bench now, we’ve got Brennan Johnson playing in the Premier League, he came on and made an impact. Kieffer Moore came on and made an impact. We have strength in depth, I can look over my shoulder to the bench and we’ve got players who can come on and have a real impact on games,” he said. Wales face Iran in their second Group B game on Friday.
US COACH ‘OKAY WITH THE DRAW’
United States head coach Gregg Berhalter praised his players following their 1-1 draw against Wales in the team’s opening World Cup game.
“It didn’t look like a team playing in their first World Cup. They looked mature, especially in the first half,” Berhalter said.
He added that he felt okay with the draw because his players had given it their all. “It was a hard-fought game. We left everything out there,” he said.
The United States took an early lead after 22-year-old Timothy Weah scored the opening goal before a Gareth Bale penalty tied the game at 1-1 in the 82nd minute.
“I think we lost a little bit of power. But in the same sense Wales stepped up their pressure,” Berhalter said. “And we had some good counterattacking opportunities. We kept going right to the end.”
On Friday, the U.S. play against England, who notched an emphatic 6-2 victory in their opening match against Iran.