Netherlands opened their 2022 World Cup campaign on a winning note after securing a hard-fought 2-0 win over Senegal.
Netherlands: Andries Noppert; Denzel Dumfries, Matthijs de Ligt, Virgil van Dijk, Nathan Ake, Daley Blind; Frenkie de Jong, Steven Berghuis; Cody Gakpo, Vincent Janssen, Steven Bergwijn.
Senegal: Edouard Mendy; Youssouf Sabaly, Kalidou Koulibaly, Pape Abou Cisse, Abdou Diallo; Cheikhou Kouyate, Nampalys Mendy, Idrissa Gueye; Ismaila Sarr, Boulaye Dia, Krepin Diatta.
Netherlands went into this game with an intimidating record against the African champions. The Dutch have not lost all their World Cup matches against African opponents.
Their last defeat in a Group stage stretches back to 1994, and they have not lost their previous eight opening matches.
Senegal were the less fancied opponent. They were knocked out at the quarterfinal in 2002 and crashed out of the Group stages in the 2018 edition. This was their third appearance in the tournament.
Nothing really happened in the first half of the game as both sides tried to contain each other.
They competed for possession alike, although the Netherlands seemed to be the better side in the game, with one clear chance that Frenkie de Jong missed.
The Netherlands looked more threatening when on the attack and were making moves to find an early goal in the game.
In the 4th minute, Gakpo had come close with a chance. He had squared a pass to Bergwijin, but the Senegal defence was up to the task, clearing the ball with ease.
The Dutch came close again in the 12th minute. Diallo was located by Daley Blind’s cross and then raced down on a counterattack, but it was another folly as the Senegal defence again nibbed it in the bud.
The biggest chance of the game came in the 19th minute when Senegal’s defender lost possession in their own half.
Oranje had dispossessed a Senegal defender and located Bergwijn, who had freed up Berghius into the counter. Bergius sends a through ball to De Jong inside the Senegal box, but Barcelona star lost it while struggling for space to shoot.
The game turned end-to-end after then, with Senegal coming to their first close chance in the 25th minute.
Sarr successfully dribbled pass Dumfries on the left flank before firing a powerful right-footed shot from the edge of the box. Thanks to Liverpool center-back Virgil van Dijk, who blocked it with an accidental header for a corner kick.
It was the Netherlands going close with more chances as the game progressed, but they were unable to find a goal.
The Dutch did not have much possession of the ball after the first half but certainly looked more threatening and had more chances than the Senegalese.
The first half ended on a barren note as both sides could not break the goal deadlock.
Both sides filed into the pitch for the remaining 45 minutes of the game. Nothing really happened as it began, but the Dutch seem to be comfortably in control of the game.
Senegal equally gave a good account of themselves despite going into the game as minnows.
The game was still barren, with over 15 minutes of the second half played. The Netherlands dominated the possession and improved their game, mounting pressure but failing to break the goal deadlock.
In the 53rd minute, Senegal conceded a corner kick. Gakpo took it and aimed it at Virgil van Dijk inside the Senegal penalty area, but the captain’s header flew over the crossbar.
In the 55th minute, Senegal took on a counter after a deflected ball dropped to Sabaly. He fired a shot from 25 yards, but it deflected off Ake for a corner kick.
Into the 60th minute, it was still barren. No goal from both side – The Dutch’s quick attacking drive meets the Senegalese clinical defense.
De Ligt picked up the first booking of the game in the 61st minute after he bumped into the back of Sarr.
After much pressure, the Netherlands finally broke the goal deadlock in the 84th minute. Gody Gakpo scored his debut World Cup goal with a brilliant header after a looping cross from Frenkie De Jong.
😮💨 Believe the hype! Cody Gakpo is here to make his mark 🇳🇱— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) November 21, 2022
Netherlands’ hero and your @Budweiser Player of the Match against Senegal! #POTM #YoursToTake #BudweiserWorldCup @BudFootball pic.twitter.com/cKhuqQuwPP
Klaassen scored again in the 90+9th minute to double the lead and condemn the African champions to a World Cup opening defeat.