TOTAL FOOTBALL MEMPHIS DEPAY’S World Cup is up and running.
He finished possibly the best front-to-back move this tournament will see to open the scoring at the Khalifa Stadium.
Memphis Depay opened the scoring with a rasping finish in the tenth minute
Daley Blind doubled the Oranje’s lead
Haji Wright’s neat flick set up a nervy finish for the Dutch
When Daley Blind added a second in first-half injury time that had the Dutch in command.
Why were Depay and Blind off-loaded by Manchester United again?
The USA would respond through Haji Wright on 75 minutes, but Denzel Dumfries made things safe with a side foot volley six minutes later having assisted the first two Dutch goals.
Depay was the star of Holland’s qualification campaign with 12 goals and six assists but he has had to be eased into this tournament having not played since mid-September due to a hamstring injury
Louis van Gaal said he had to pace his return right so he could have the best of him in the knockout phase and that is what he has got.
Perhaps we are starting to see the best of the Dutch too despite criticism of Van Gaal’s style of play back home.
This was a third win out of four to go with a draw out here in Qatar to extend his unbeaten run since returning for a third stint in charge of the Netherlands to 19 games.
How much further can the legendary boss take them? Well not much was expected of his 2014 side in Brazil and they went within penalty kicks of the final.
The way they controlled this game and brilliantly executed their goals will have other countries with designs on the big prize taking notice.
The opening goal on ten minutes was at odds with much of what we have seen from the Dutch, which has been effective but dull.
It involved 20 uninterrupted passes, the most by a Dutch team at a World Cup since these statistics began being record in 1966.
The defence to attack first time passing of the ball finished with Cody Gakpo spreading it wide to Denzel Dumfries who spotted Depay had slowed his run to hang just inside the area.
He picked him out and the Barcelona man’s first time finish from 16 yards with his instep was perfect, across Matt Turner and into the far side of the goal.
Dumfries assisted for the second also.
He was found by Davy Klaassen and the pull-back was perfect again this time finding Blind who had ghosted into the centre of the box from his left wing-back position to execute the first time finish.
Off he went to the Dutch dug out in celebration and after being mobbed by the substitutes he had a special hug with dad Danny who is assistant to Van Gaal.
To think the USA had started off so well having a great chance to take the lead after just three minutes when Tyler Adams hooked the ball over the Dutch defence for Christian Pulisic to be left one on one.
The save from Andries Noppert was out the top draw as he flung out his left leg to deflect the ball wide off his shin.
Denzel Dumfries made sure of the Oranje’s progression into the last eight
The USA responded at the start of the second-half and Tim Ream saw his chance to get his country back into it denied when Gakpo hacked the ball of the line.
Then on 76 minutes they were back in it thanks to more than a slice of good fortune.
Not even scorer Haji Wright will be able to explain quite how he did it as Pulisic’s cross sliced off the top of his boot and looped over Noppert and in.
for long as five minutes later the excellent Dumfries met fellow wing back Daley Blind’s cross to turn a side foot volley in.
The Dutch march on to the last eight.