The Netherlands survived a late scare against the United States to move into the Fifa World Cup quarter-finals with a ruthless display of finishing.
The US had the game’s biggest early chance when Christian Pulisic was denied by the legs of Dutch goalkeeper Andries Noppert and the failure to take that opportunity proved highly expensive.
Louis van Gaal’s side responded in the finest Dutch traditions in the 10th minute when Memphis Depay crowned a magnificent 21-pass move by turning in Denzel Dumfries’ cross.
The US battled hard but lacked a cutting edge and were punished in similar fashion with the final kick of the first half when Daley Blind arrived with perfect timing on the end of another Dumfries cut back.
The Dutch were given anxious moments when the US pulled a goal back in the 76th minute as Haji Wright’s freak deflection from Pulisic’s cross looped in at the far post.
But they restored their two-goal lead five minutes later when creator Dumfries turned scorer, side-footing in a volley at the far post from Blind’s cross.
The States’ main man Christian Pulisic looked close to tears after the final whistle as he reflected on the chance that got away in those opening moments, an opportunity that might have made this a very different tie.
Pulisic was sent through on goal by Tyler Adams’ clever delivery but the outstretched leg of Dutch keeper Noppert made the block. Pulisic should have scored and he knew it.
They will depart Qatar and start their preparations for the Fifa World Cup 2026, which they will jointly host with Canada and Mexico.