Late objectives from Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaassen gave the Netherlands a 2-0 win over African champions Senegal on Monday because the three-time crushed finalists returned to the World Cup stage.
With Senegal lacking injured star man Sadio Mane and the Dutch with out their primary attacking menace Memphis Depay at kick-off, the Group A encounter in Doha regarded set to finish in a draw.
However with simply six minutes remaining, PSV Eindhoven ahead Gakpo rose in entrance of Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to go dwelling a floating Frenkie de Jong cross from the left.
Substitute Klaassen then sealed victory deep into harm time, following as much as rating after Mendy had saved from Depay, who had additionally come off the bench.
“I always had the feeling we were going to score a goal,” mentioned Van Gaal, who’s in his third spell as coach of the nationwide group.
“It was an environment friendly win however I additionally thought we have been more healthy as a result of each two minutes the Senegalese have been on the bottom.
“So I think it was a well-deserved win even though I don’t think it was a good game from us.”
The outcome leaves the Netherlands high of the group with Ecuador, who beat hosts Qatar 2-0 within the event’s opening match on Sunday.
Van Gaal’s facet play Ecuador on Friday, whereas Senegal now face a must-win contest in opposition to Qatar.
Senegal noticed Bayern Munich celebrity Mane – runner-up on this 12 months’s Ballon d’Or – pull out of the squad with a leg harm on the eve of the event.
His absence was clearly felt as the competition at Al Thumama Stadium – performed out to the backdrop of the Senegalese assist’s continuous drumming and dancing, but additionally in entrance of numerous empty seats – by no means lived as much as its absence. billing.
“I don’t think the scoreline is a fair reflection of the game and I’m really proud of my boys,” insisted Senegal coach Aliou Cisse, who noticed each Abdou Diallo and Cheikhou Kouyate injured within the second half.
Everton midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye got here closest to scoring for Senegal with a half-volley from the sting of the field that was palmed away by Dutch goalkeeper Andries Noppert within the 73rd minute.
‘Dream debut’ for Noppert
Noppert, the enormous Heerenveen goalkeeper making his worldwide debut, additionally excelled with saves from Boulaye Dia and Pape Gueye within the second half because the Netherlands performed their first World Cup match in eight years.
“It was a boyhood dream of mine to play at a World Cup but I never thought it would be possible,” Noppert, who’s 28, advised Dutch broadcaster NOS.
The Oranje have been semi-finalists below Van Gaal in Brazil 2014 earlier than failing to qualify for the latest World Cup in Russia 2018.
The Dutch group was captained by Virgil van Dijk, who made his debut at a serious worldwide event on the event of his fiftieth cap.
With Matthijs de Ligt and Nathan Ake alongside them, they have been principally comfy on the again however had created little going ahead earlier than Barcelona ahead Depay – who scored 12 objectives in qualifying – got here on within the ultimate half hour.
With Depay unable to start out after spending two months on the sidelines, it fell to former Tottenham Hotspur striker Vincent Janssen to spearhead the Dutch assault, however he did not make a lot of an influence.
Nonetheless, Gakpo lastly broke the impasse and as Senegal pushed for an equaliser, Depay performed his half in Ajax midfielder Klaassen’s objective that clinched the factors within the ninth minute of added time.