Louis van Gaal’s progress through the group stages of the World Cup has not impressed everybody in Holland. Not enough style and flair, they have said.
Well here against a USA team expected to give Holland a difficult evening, the Dutch found a little of their traditional selves to ease to a comfortable victory and left us with one of the most memorable goals of this terrific World Cup along the way.
Twenty passes were strung together across the green acres of the Khalifa Stadium before Memphis Depay struck Holland’s first goal in just the tenth minute. That made it the most elaborate goal ever scored by a Dutch team at a World Cup. This from a side said by one prominent Dutch newspaper to play football reminiscent of grinding teeth. Little wonder that Van Gaal was all smiles afterwards.
Gio Reyna was left in tears at full-time after the United States were dumped out of the World Cup by Holland in the round of 16
Christian Pulisic, the USA’s star player, is consoled at full-time after his side were beaten 3-1 by their impressive Dutch rivals
Holland progressed to the quarter-finals of the Qatar World Cup with a 3-1 win over Team USA in Doha on Saturday
USA manager Gregg Berhalter embraces an emotional Tim Weah on the pitch at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha
Holland (3-4-1-2): Noppert 6; Timber 6, Van Dijk 6.5, Ake 6.5 (De Ligt 90mins); Dumfries 8, De Roon 6 (Bergwijn 45mins 6.5), De Jong 7, Blind 7; Klaassen 6.5 (Koopmeiners 45mins 6) ; Gakpo 6 (Weghorst 90mins), Depay 7.5 (Simons 82mins 6).
Goals: Depay 10, Blind 41, Dumfries 80
Manager: Louis van Gaal 7
USA (4-3-3): Turner 7; Dest 6, Zimmerman 6, Ream 6.5, Robinson 6; Musah 5.5, Adams 6, McKennie 6 (Wright 66mins 7); Ferreira 6 (Reyna 45mins 6), Weah 6.5 (Aaronson 66mins 6), Pulisic 6.5.
Goals: Wright 76
Manager: Gregg Berhalter 6
‘They were fantastic goals,’ said Van Gaal. ‘The first was of a beauty and team spirit.
‘I know what the media write about me but I get enough appreciation from the people around me.
‘Top countries have not progressed here but we still have three matches to go. I have said for a year that we can become world champions.’
In charge of his country for the third time, Van Gaal is 71 now. Still, though, he maintains an appetite to win and to prove people wrong.
His team were soporific to watch in the group stages but this performance was an improvement. The USA had troubled England in drawing with them in Group B but after a bright start here Gregg Berhalter’s team hardly laid a glove on the Dutch. This was a rarity at this World Cup, a night when the usual order of things was maintained. After Dutch goalkeeper
Andries Noppert saved from Christian Pulisic in the opening moments, Holland were better team by a distance.
Depay’s goal was a beauty. With the ball moved patiently and cleverly through the center of the field and out to the right, the cross that followed from Denzel Dumfries was perfect and Depay thundered it home with his right instep.
Only the second goal USA had conceded in the tournament – and the first from open play – it required a response but they struggled to find one. So energetic and brave against England, USA could not find that edge here. It was almost as though when they were forced to chase a game they didn’t know how to do it.
Van Gaal’s team were comfortable, more so than they probably expected. USA’s Tim Weah drove in a half volley from 18 yards that Noppert saved but almost immediately Holland swept back upfield to score their second goal.
Inter defender Denzel Dumfries capped off a superb display with a composed winner after being left all alone at the back post
Dumfries extinguished any hopes of an American comeback with an 80th minute volley, after two assists earlier in the game
Memphis Depay looked back to his best & opened the scoring with a clinical finish – which came against the run of play
Once again the cross came from the right and again it was from the Inter wing-back, Dumfries. It wasn’t clear who Dumfries was aiming for but Blind made the ball his by anticipating its angles and running off the shoulder of an opponent to arrive and thump it in to the net.
The two goals had more than one thing in common. Dumfries was the supply line both times while the crispness of Blind’s finish mirrored the one employed by his team-mate Depay earlier on.
It added up to a handy lead for the Dutch and it took USA until late in the game to make any kind of dent in it. There was the occasional, isolated chance. A Tim Ream poke was cleared off the line by Cody Gakpo while Depay got away with an errant back pass as substitute Haji Wright couldn’t find the angle needed to turn the ball in.
A goal did come from the corner that followed, though, and it was a strange one. The kick from the right was recycled by USA to Pulisic stationed on the same side. And when he crossed low to the near post Wright somehow got part of his foot on the ball and it looped up and back over his shoulder, over the goalkeeper and at least one defender and in to the far corner of the goal. If Wright says that was deliberate then don’t believe a word of it. It couldn’t possibly have been.
Daley Blind crushed US hearts with a stroking finish seconds before the half-time interval, extending the Dutch lead to 2-0
Depay celebrated his opener with fellow superstar and frontman, Cody Gakpo, who has scored thrice at the tournament
USMNT & Leeds midfielder Tyler Adams could not hide his disappointment following the final whistle as the USA crashed out
With fifteen minutes still remaining, the crowd was suddenly engaged. The Mexican wave that had started after about ten minutes and continued sporadically even stopped for a while. All the crowd witnessed, though, was another Dutch goal almost immediately.
This time Dumfries was the scorer. Once again the Dutch football was neat and when Blind clipped a cross from the left across goal to the far post, Dumfries volleyed it wonderfully and confidently in to the goal.
What had threatened to be a tough night for Holland had turned out to be anything but. Van Gaal will take all manner of satisfaction from that.
Second-half substitute Haji Wright had to be consoled by teammate and ex-Newcastle defender DeAndre Yedlin postgame
Louis van Gaal’s team will move on in their quest to win their first-ever World Cup Trophy despite an apparent lack of flair
Haji Wright’s miraculous finish in the 76th minute gave the US a very brief ray of hope, but it was extinguished minutes later
Scroll down to recap how the action unfolded with Sportsmail’s live blog for the World Cup last-16 clash between Holland and USA.