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Nothing less than a massive win, perhaps even a double-digit drubbing. Expectations went through the roof ahead of the Netherlands’ World Cup qualifier against Gibraltar, the number 197 on the FIFA World Ranking. In late March, the first encounter ‘on the Rock’ ended in a 7-0 thrashing, this time around in Rotterdam, Louis van Gaal’s men settled for one goal less.
The leaders of European qualifying Group G got off to a lightning start against the bottom of the table. The intention behind the orange storm was clear: put Gibraltar on the sword as soon as possible.
The high pace and high pressure proved effective after eight minutes, with the Netherlands captain, Virgil van Dijk, converting a corner kick taken by Memphis Depay. Ten minutes later, the Barcelona striker squandered an excellent opportunity to double the score by missing from the penalty spot. Teed up by Davy Klaassen, he soon made up for his failure, tapping in from close range in the 21 minute.
Memphis made sure that he didn’t fail again from the spot on the stroke of half-time, making it 3-0 for the hosts and moving himself up to fifth on the Netherlands all-time top scorers list.
Shortly after the break, right-back Denzel Dumfries put his name on the scoresheet by heading in a subtle Noa Lang chip.
The 33,000 strong crowd at Feijenoord Stadium had to wait for nearly half an hour before the home side scored again, courtesy of substitute Arnaut Danjuma Groeneveld, by far the most dangerous Netherlands player in the second period. Another substitute Donyell Malen made it six with a low strike past the left post after yet another Memphis assist.
The 6-0 victory keeps the Netherlands firmly on track for qualification, leading Norway by two points. Few would have expected otherwise. This was a totally one-sided affair, an unbalanced match which could easily have produced a higher score. But at the end of the day, there had simply been too many black-clad legs and bodies in front of goal. The two remaining qualifiers next month, against Montenegro and Norway, will be quite a different matter.
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