Virgil Van Dijk captained the Dutch side for their opening group game at the World Cup against an impressive Senegal outfit. Van Dijk, who was making his maiden appearance for his nation at a major tournament, played his part in a 2-0 win.

It wasn’t as straightforward as the scoreline suggests, with the two goal lead flattering the Orange. Senegal were more than a match for their European counterparts. A tightly contested first half saw the Teranga Lions go toe to toe with Van Gaal’s men.

The game was battled for in midfield, with the trio of Mendy, Kouyate and Gueye swamping De Jong and Berghuis. This saw the Dutch attack starved of any real service. A goalless first half was entertaining, as both sides showed an eye catching level of tactical and technical dexterity.

The Dutch didn’t have it all their own way after the break either. If anything, the reigning African champions looked likelier to break the deadlock, with a string of fine saves by Noppert keeping them at bay. Van Dijk played in the heart of defence, flanked by De Ligt and Ake.

The big man had to work hard to keep Boulaye Dia under wraps. The Villarreal striker combined well with the dangerous Ismaila Sarr to cause the Dutch a few problems. More injury woe hit the Senegalese though, as Kouyate was forced off in the second half.

Van Dijk went close to opening the scoring from a corner but could only steer wide after getting the run on Gueye. Memphis Depay came off the bench as Van Gaal sought a spark of inspiration. That was delivered by the effervescent Frenkie De Jong however.

The Barca man had been in a running battle with the hardworking Senegalese midfield. He was in perpetual motion all game as he sought to find space to progress the Dutch up the pitch whilst keeping the door closed to any Senegalese counter attacks.

The moment of the game came in the 80th minute when he spotted the run of Gapko and lofted an inch perfect cross for the youngster to attack. Edouard Mendy in the Senegal goal misjudged the flight of the cross and was beaten to it by the PSV Eindhoven attacker who flicked into an empty net.

The reigning Dutch Player of the Year arrived in Qatar in supreme form and delivered for his nation when it mattered most. The final ten minutes saw Senegal scramble around as they sought to hit back. This opened them up on the break however.

Two substitutes put the result in no doubt after Depay’s shot was parried into the path of Klaasen by Mendy. The Ajax man made no mistake, slamming home to make it 2-0 and send the stadium into an orange frenzy.

Three points, two goals and a clean sheet. It was a solid night’s work for Virgil and a dream start to the tournament for the Dutch. For Cisse’s men, they have to keep their chin up. They showed enough tonight to suggest they can cause teams problems at this level.

Sadio Mané was of course sorely missed but they have to regroup and focus on their second group game (against hosts Qatar). Win that and they’ll hand themselves a decent chance of qualifying.

For Van Dijk and co, it’s on to Ecuador. That match is slated for Friday so it’s a quick turnaround. They must recover and prepare to go again. Beat the South Americans and qualification will be secured.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s