Denzel Dumfries scored and set up two more goals as the Netherlands defeated the United States 3-1 in the World Cup quarterfinals.
Louis Van Gaal’s team are the first to reach the last eight, and it was always looking likely following goals in the first half from Memphis Depay and Daley Blind. The Dutch’s clinical advantage proved decisive in a game in which the US had some bright moments.
Haji Wright’s lucky finish with 15 minutes remained threatened to set up a dramatic climax, but Dumfries quickly restored the two-goal lead to assure a little more comfortable ending. The Netherlands will meet either Argentina or Australia in the quarterfinals, extending their undefeated streak to 19 games.
The USA raced out of the blocks and might have grabbed the lead inside three minutes when Christian Pulisic found himself clean through on goal, but the Chelsea player was stopped by Andries Noppert’s extended leg.
They dominated possession until they were cruelly punished on the break when the Dutch scored against the flow of play. Dumfries cut the it back for Depay, who stroked a finish into the far corner after a magnificent flowing move.
Van Gaal’s tactics were flawless, sitting back and allowing the American defense have the ball before attacking on the counter. Another strong spell by the USA was in fruitless, as the advantage was increased with the final kick of the half.
It was virtually an exact repeat of the first, Dumfries with the low cross again, but this time Blind ran onto it to give the Dutch total possession.
Both teams had opportunities when the game resumed after the interval, with Tim Ream’s effort from a corner cleared off the line by Cody Gakpo and Depay’s effort from just beyond the box pushed over by Matt Turner.
The Arsenal goalkeeper made a great double stop to keep his team in the game, the second of which denied Depay when the striker appeared set to score from close range. It appeared even more crucial when the deficit was cut in half, Pulisic’s low cross glancing off Wright and looping wonderfully into the far corner.
But the Netherlands were back in control five minutes later, when Blind hoisted a cross to the back post, where Dumfries was entirely free to cushion a volley past the helpless Turner and keep the Dutch campaign for their first World Cup on track.