Netherlands’ Cody Gakpo sends Man Utd message with late World Cup winner vs Senegal – ASAL SPORTS

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NETHERLANDS 2-0 SENEGAL: Louis van Gaal’s side needed late goals from Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaassen to get past the Africans in their Group A opener at the 2022 World Cup

Louis van Gaal’s quest to add a glorious epitaph to his managerial career got off to a winning start thanks to two late strikes.

The highly-decorated veteran was gushing in praise of the Oranje ahead of their tournament opener suggesting they could go all the way in what is likely to be the 71-year-old’s final managerial posting.

But this eagerly-awaited dust-up was a limp affair as two countries – unable to start their brightest attacking talent – decided upon a cautionary approach. It looked for all the world as if this would end in a goalless stalemate as chances were at a premium – particularly during a drab second period.

But Cody Gakpo opened up the game with a late header and sub Davy Klaassen added the finishing touches in the final seconds to give the scoreline a far healthier appearance for van Gaal and his men.

With Qatar putting on such a limp show in their opening fixture against Ecuador, both bosses would have been mindful of the damage a defeat would do to their chances of qualifying from Group A.

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Perhaps that influenced their approach and it would have been interesting to see how the Lions of Teranga would have fared had Sadio Mane been available to them after he was ruled out by a tendon injury.

Van Gaal has been sweating on the fitness of his leading light Memphis Depay who has been struggling with a hamstring problem. He was able to name the ex-Manchester United man on the bench, however, and the striker played a part in both of the goals that settled this.

With just six minutes remaining on the clock, he was involved in a triangle of passes that ended with Frankie de Jong swinging over a cross from the left.

Gakpo showed Manchester United what they are missing after his failed transfer earlier this year. The forward gambled and made a run that went untracked. Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy gambled but failed to reach the ball first and the ball was deflected into the net by the PSV Eindhoven star.

That lead was protected just a few minutes later when debutant Andries Noppert in the Dutch goal, pulled off a save from sub Page Gueye that protected the slender lead. As the game entered its final seconds, Depay found himself in a one-on-one duel with Kalidou Koulibaly.

He managed to fire off a shot from the edge of the area that Mendy could only parry and Klaassen was on hand to seal the result with almost the last kick of the game.

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Netherlands (3-5-2): Noppert 6, de Ligt 5, Van Dijk 7, Ake 6; Dumfries 6, de Jong F 6, Gakpo 8, (de Roon 90) Berghuis 6, (Koopmeiners 78, 5) Blind 6; Janssen 5, (Depay 62, 7) Bergwijn 5. (Klaassen 78, 6)

Subs: Pasveer, Bijlow, Timber, De Vrij, De Jong L, Lang, Malacia, Weghorst, Taylor, Simons, Frimpong.

Senegal (4-3-3): Mendy E 5, Sabaly 6, Koulibaly 6, Cisse 6, Diallo 5, (Jakobs 62, 5) Kouyate 6, (Gueye P 73, 5) Mendy N 6, Gueye I 6; Sarr I 7, Dia 5, (Dieng S 68, 5) Diatta 5. (Jackson 73, 5)

Subs: Dieng B, Gomis, Mendy F, Ndiaye N, Ciss, Ballo-Toure, Ndiaye I, Sarr P, Diedhou, Name, Loum.

Man-of-the-match: Cody Gakpo – energetic and disciplined display that was rounded off by the all important opening goal.

Frenkie de Jong makes harsh admission despite Netherlands’ World Cup win over Senegal

Frenkie de Jong was part of the Netherlands’ opening win at the World Cup but the midfielder has been critical of his own performance against Senegal

Frenkie De Jong claims he was “sloppy” in an “average” Netherlands performance despite their World Cup win.

The Dutch begun their tournament with three points against Senegal, who were tipped to rival them for top spot in the group. Cody Gakpo opened the scoring late on after what was a less than thrilling encounter that lacked quality. Davy Klaassen made the game safe late on.

Louis van Gaal’s side are back at a World Cup for the first time in eight years having missed out in 2018. The Netherlands are not the force of old and De Jong, who will have to perform if his country are to make an impression in Qatar, claimed he and his side were below par.

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He confessed after the game: “We were average. We didn’t play good. But we also didn’t give any chances away. I think my own game was sloppy.” De Jong played alongside Steven Berghuis in the middle of the pitch as Van Gaal employed a 3-4-3 formation.

The former Manchester United boss admits his side were lacklustre in possession but was confident they would come through in their opening game. He said: “Was it an efficient victory? Of course it was. Listen to me, we played with poor ball possession in the first half but nonetheless we created five chances.

“It was more balanced in the second half. We created one chance and scored twice and, to be honest, I was calm. I always had the feeling we would score. So it was well deserved although we were shoddy in possession.”

Van Gaal did hand a surprise debut to goalkeeper Andries Noppert, who plays in the Eredivisie with Heerenveen. The 28-year-old hailed his manager for being “brave” enough to make the decision as he addressed the idea that the Dutch don’t have top class goalkeepers.

He said: “In The Netherlands everyone is moaning that we don’t have quality goalkeepers but you need to give young players a chance, you just need to be brave enough to make the decision. It doesn’t matter if it’s logical or not, there’s only one man who makes this choice.”

Bayern Munich defender Matthijs de Ligt admits he was shocked to be included in the starting XI. “I was completely surprised that I was starting this game. The manager told me this week,” he said, before adding: “The manager gave an explanation. I think it has to do with the physical strength of Senegal. I think that was the reason.”

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