The Netherlands took control of World Cup qualifying Group G with a 1-0 victory over Latvia on Friday.

Davy Klaassen scored the only goal of the game in the first half as Oranje edged an uninspiring contest in Riga.

After scoring 10 goals in their previous two matches against Montenegro and Turkey, Louis van Gaal's men were far more laboured against a side whose only World Cup qualifying wins since the end of 2013 have come against Andorra and Gibraltar.

Klaassen's opening goal was a well-taken volley on the turn from Memphis Depay's corner, as the Netherlands started in positive fashion.

Yet Klaassen was required to make a double block against Andrejs Ciganiks and Roberts Uldrikis at the other end barely a minute later following a mistake near the halfway line by captain Virgil van Dijk.

Latvia continued to offer a threat on the break, but the visitors should have made their position more comfortable six minutes after half-time, Cody Gakpo heading Daley Blind's cross over the bar when Klaassen was perhaps better placed to meet it.

The Netherlands continued to control around 75 per cent of the possession without really threatening Roberts Ozols in the Latvia goal, at least until substitute Ryan Gravenberch was thwarted by the keeper's legs from inside the penalty area.

Latvia almost produced a late shock in injury time, Igors Tarasovs drawing a one-handed save from Justin Bijlow after the Netherlands failed to clear a corner.

What does it mean? Netherlands two points clear in Group G

With Turkey and Norway playing out a draw in Istanbul, the Netherlands were able to move two points clear at the top of the group.

Given their next game is at home to Gibraltar, who have lost all seven of their qualifiers, Van Gaal's side have a good chance to put themselves in a strong position ahead of the final two rounds of matches.

Klaassen holds the key

There were not many especially bright performances but Klaassen deserves credit for the decisive moments: his volley on the spin from 12 yards out was well controlled, and his endeavour in his own box moments later made sure there was to be no quick equaliser.

He was the only Netherlands player to manage more than a single shot on target, too – although he only had two of those.

Complacency almost proves costly

While the final half-hour was firmly under their control, the Netherlands allowed Latvia far too many opportunities to attack in the first half as they failed to build on their lead.

One particularly slack piece of play from Van Dijk in the opponents' half presented them with their best chance of the contest.

What's next?

The Netherlands host Gibraltar on Monday, when Latvia are at home to Turkey.

Memphis Depay scored a hat-trick and set up another as the Netherlands thumped 10-man Turkey 6-1 at the Johan Cruijff ArenA to move to the top of their World Cup qualifying group.

Barcelona forward Depay played in Davy Klaassen to put the Dutch in front inside 54 seconds and then added a couple of his own – a brilliant strike and a penalty – before half-time.

Turkey were reduced to 10 men prior to the interval when Caglar Soyuncu was sent off and the Netherlands did not hold back, with Depay heading in from a yard out for his third of the day.

Cengiz Under profited from a defensive mistake to net a consolation, but only after substitutes Guus Til and Donyell Malen had added their names to the scoresheet in an emphatic victory for Louis van Gaal's men.

Turkey had gone unbeaten in their first five games to lead the way at the top of Group G but were behind in Amsterdam within a minute when Klaassen played a one-two with Depay and slotted in off the post.

The pair linked up again as Klaassen flicked a return pass into the path of Depay, who kept his composure to tuck the ball away from Ugurcan Cakir and put the Netherlands well on course for an eighth straight home win.

Turkey found themselves three goals down with seven minutes of the first half still to play – Depay dinking the ball down the middle from the penalty spot after Soyuncu tripped Klaassen in the box.

Soyuncu was booked for that challenge and was issued another yellow card eight minutes later for a foul Depay, who completed his first international hat-trick early in the second half.

Feyenoord midfielder Til spun his marker and blasted in his maiden Netherlands goal and fellow substitute Malen rolled a sixth into an empty net, rendering Under's late tap-in nothing but a consolation on a night to forget for Turkey.

Erling Haaland was on target as Louis van Gaal had to settle for a 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw with Norway in his first match back in charge of the Netherlands.

Haaland opened the scoring with his first goal of Norway's qualifying campaign at the Ullevaal Stadion on Wednesday, but Davy Klaassen equalised in the first half.

Prolific Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland struck the post in the second half in Oslo, where neither side could fashion a winner.

A draw in Van Gaal's first game in his third spell as coach of his country leaves both the Netherlands and Norway a point behind Group G leaders Turkey, who were held to a 2-2 draw by Montenegro.

Cody Gakpo was handed a first Netherlands start and he had two early chances to open the scoring, Andre Hansen palming his header wide before the forward bent a shot wide from just outside the penalty area.

Oranje debutant Justin Bijlow came out quickly and made himself big to deny Haaland when Jens Hauge sent him clear with an incisive pass, but the Dortmund frontman put Norway in front 20 minutes in.

Memphis Depay was at fault, losing possession in his own half, and Haaland controlled a ball over the top from Stefan Strandberg before poking into the far corner with his left foot as returning captain Virgil van Dijk's desperate last-ditch tackle was in vain.

The Netherlands responded well and they were level nine minutes before the break, Klaassen bursting into the box to convert Georginio Wijnaldum's cross from close range.

Depay stung Hansen's palms and Donyell Malen, who replaced Steven Berghuis at half-time, flashed a shot wide as the Oranje dictated the play after the interval.

Haaland ought to have restored Norway's lead on the break after 64 minutes, when he rattled the inside of the post with a left-foot strike after Martin Odegaard slipped him in.

Denzel Dumfries missed a great chance to snatch all three points with the last kick of the game, but a late Montenegro equaliser was a boost for both sides.

 

 

 

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