Gakpo and De Jong assist the Netherlands in reaching the top of the group with a straightforward victory over Qatar


The Netherlands comfortably defeated World Cup hosts Qatar 2-0 on Tuesday at the Al Bayt Stadium to secure the top spot in Group A and advance to the knockout stages. Cody Gakpo scored his third goal in three games.

The Dutch, who finished with seven points from their three group games, will be participated in the last 16 by Senegal, who took out Ecuador by beating them 2-1 to wind up second on six points.

After losing to Senegal 3-1, the Qataris were out, and despite spending a lot of investment in state-of-the-art facilities to host the World Cup, they failed again on the field.

They had their moments in a dull first half, forcing a few corners and posing a threat on the edge of the Dutch area, but Gakpo scored a gut-wrenching goal as soon as they bared their teeth.

The 23-year-old scored in the 26th minute with a well-placed shot that beat Meshaal Bersham after Davy Klaassen played an inviting ball into his path. He received the ball quickly and sliced through the center of the defense.

Gakpo had scored in each of the group-stage matches, making this his third goal in three games.

“Things can change of course but Cody Gakpo has everything it takes to become a star — plus he has a wonderful personality to become a star player because he’s openminded to everything,” Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal said afterward.

The Qatari defense was caught ball-watching as Depay’s shot was saved four minutes into the second half, allowing Frenkie de Jong to bundle it into the net. The Dutch scored again when Klaassen sent a cross to Depay.

The Dutch missed a goal because Gakpo was found to have handled the ball in the buildup, but they still cruised to victory despite Qatar’s lack of quality to mount a comeback.

The final whistle signaled the beginning of the short wait for the Dutch to find out which of the Group B teams they will face in the last 16: England, Wales, Iran, or the United States.

However, some members of the Dutch media criticized Van Gaal’s team’s performance after the game.

“I think people will be proud we’re progressing,” he responded. “You’re always the one who asks these questions — I think things aren’t as bad as you say they are.”

After posting the worst record of any host nation in World Cup history, Asian champion Qatar will resume their role as tournament hosts and plan for the future of the game in their country.

“We’re a country of 6,000 football licensed players,” Qatar coach Felix Sanchez said. “We’ve played tough games, in the first game we didn’t reach our level, but our conclusions are realistic. You can use statistics, but we’ll use our own assessment.”

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