Netherlands beats Norway 2-0 to qualify for World Cup

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — The Netherlands qualified for next year’s World Cup on its second attempt Tuesday by beating Norway 2-0 in an empty De Kuip stadium.

Turkey qualified for the playoffs by beating Montenegro 2-1 in Podgorica.

Steven Bergwijn finally broke the stalemate in a cagey match in the 84th minute, running onto a pass by Arnaut Danjuma and smashing a powerful shot past Orjan Nyland.

In stoppage time, the Tottenham winger surged forward and laid off a pass for Memphis Depay to seal the victory with a shot from a tight angle.

At the final whistle, the Dutch players hugged and jumped in a circle on the pitch. There were no fans to celebrate with due to a lockdown imposed in the Netherlands on Saturday amid surging COVID-19 infection rates.

Captain Virgil van Dijk said he was proud of the disciplined performance.

“We gave away almost nothing,” the center-back told Dutch broadcaster NOS. “This was about a result and getting to Qatar.”

Norway, needing a win to stand a chance of progressing, showed little initiative throughout the match.

The Dutch were minutes from qualifying on Saturday night, leading Montenegro 2-0 in the last 10 minutes of regulation time before conceding twice to set up Tuesday’s nerve-jangling match.

“We had to show a reaction after Saturday,” Van Dijk said.

They did, and this time it was the Dutch who scored twice late on, leaving Norway no time to come back.

Dutch coach Louis van Gaal watched the match from a sky box at the stadium after breaking a bone in his hip in a fall on Sunday, passing messages to his assistants Henk Fraser and Danny Blind in the dugout.

“It’s a shame he couldn’t be on the pitch,” Van Dijk said.

Star striker Erling Haaland was also out injured and without him Norway largely lacked attacking impulse and did not manage a single shot in the first half.

“It was a benefit for us that he could not play,” Van Gaal said.

The Dutch largely controlled possession and pushed forward tentatively before the break, with Depay looking the most likely to break the deadlock but he could not find a way past Nyland.

The pattern was the same after the break, with the Netherlands finally scoring as Norway pushed forward in search of a goal. Bergwijn’s strike and Depay’s extra time goal were enough to send the three-time World Cup runner-up to Qatar after failing to qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia.

The Dutch finished third in Brazil in 2014 in Van Gaal’s second stint in charge of the national team.

In Podgorica, Montenegro took the lead in just the fourth minute through Fatos Beciraj.

Kerm Akturkoglu equalized in the 22nd and Orkun Kokcu put Turkey ahead on the hour mark to seal a place in the playoff draw that takes place Nov. 26 in Zurich. Turkey will be unseeded in the draw, meaning it will face a match on the road against one of the seeded teams that include Portugal and Italy.

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