The Netherlands left it late to snatch a 2-0 victory over Senegal in their Group A FIFA World Cup match, in a game that was high in industry but largely lacking quality.
Not every game can be a six-goal thriller, but most viewers were probably expecting a few more highlights from a meeting between two highly rated teams at Doha’s Al Thumama Stadium on Monday.
An 85th-minute header from Cody Gakpo finally brought the second half to life. The number 8 did well to get to De Jong’s enticing cross ahead of Senegal’s keeper, Edouard Mendy, and into the net. It was one of the very few talking points from 90 minutes both teams would probably want to forget.
After eight minutes of injury time, Davy Klaassen sealed the three points after Mendy failed to gather a shot.
The Netherlands, by marginal amounts, had the best of an evenly matched, fluid first half, despite Watford star Ismaila Sarr sending in a cracking curling shot for Senegal in the 24th minute that was deflected wide.
And if the first half was slow, the second was definitely pedestrian. Any fluency that could have been detected in that first period was lacking from the second.
A brief flurry of life with ten minutes to go saw Senegal fighting in and around the box, only to see Sarr head his shot over the crossbar.
Big things were expected of the Dutch in this tournament, particularly after their absence from Russia in 2018.
They’ll need to keep grinding out results like this if they want to qualify from a group also featuring Qatar and Ecuador, neither of whom are exactly considered global footballing giants.