Netherlands 2 Qatar 0
Dismal hosts bow out with third chastening loss in a row
By James Ducker
And so, farewell Qatar, the worst hosts in the history of the World Cup.
Of course, the results and quality of the football produced was never really the point behind their controversial staging of the tournament and, when you weigh up the tragic cost to life, quibbling about the uselessness of the host nation’s attack feels like very much an afterthought.
In the hours before kick-off here at the Al Bayt Stadium, Qatar’s organising chief had revealed between 400 and 500 migrants died while working on the development of the World Cup, even if others have reported the figure to be far higher.
Nothing, then, could put the shortcomings of Felix Sanchez’s side on the pitch into greater perspective.
After the scandals and corruption and discrimination and deaths that have taken place en route to bringing the tournament to a place with a disturbing human rights record and no football legacy, the hosts’ exiting with nul points after three group games was the most predictable result of an otherwise unpredictable tournament.
Qatar players, naturally, cannot be held responsible for what has gone on off the field and came into this doubtless knowing they were horribly out of their depth.
But if anything should serve as a reminder of the daftness of the decision to extend the World Cup to include 48 teams from 2026 it has been the sight of the host nation here stinking the place out.
It is hard to see how expansion of the tournament by a further 12 countries will not dilute the quality on show and the last thing any keen football observer needs in the US, Canada and Mexico four years from now is another Qatar or two.
There is no doubt Qatar have taken strides under Sanchez over the past five years and will hope to defend their Asian Cup title next year.
But not even the 12 years the country has had to prepare since its infamous winning bid was announced were enough to get the team up to a level to compete at this tournament.
This is only the second time in the 92-year history of the World Cup that the hosts have failed to emerge from the group or get past the first stage and even then a very clear distinction needs to be drawn with South Africa in 2010.
After being drawn in the so-called “group of death” with France, Uruguay and Mexico, the South Africans only missed out on a place in the round of 16 on goal difference, edged out by Mexico despite a memorable 2-1 victory over the 1998 world champions France and accruing four points.
By contrast, Qatar’s World Cup amounts to three games, no wins, one goal, six shots on target and eight corners and it is probably a good job they avoided Spain or France and were instead paired with a cautious Netherlands because the scoreline really could have got ugly against one of Europe’s more uncompromising sides.
Hayya Card holders were allowed free entry into this game if they showed up on the gate, which swelled what threatened to be a rather sparse crowd considerably.
But many supporters had left long before the final whistle, goals from Cody Gakpo and Frenkie de Jong securing a comfortable if uninspiring for the Dutch, and if football is catching on among the locals there is not too much evidence of it.
Sanchez, though, sought to put a brave face on things. “Talking about statistics, you can use them as you want,” the Qatar coach said when it was put to him that this was the worst-ever display from a host nation.
“The reality is we are a country with 6,000 football licences so this was a likely situation. We never thought to set target of getting to the round of 16 or the quarter-finals. We wanted to see what we could do.
“We’ve managed to play two good games against Senegal and the Netherlands. We know in our first game against Ecuador we weren't at our level and didn’t play as well as we wanted.
“But we are very realistic about what we can do. You can use statistics but we have to make our own assessment because that’s what really matters to us.”
Netherlands (3-4-1-2): Noppert 6; Timber 6, Van Dijk 7, Ake 7; Dumfries 7, De Roon 6 (Koopmeiners 83), De Jong 6 (Taylor 87), Blind 6; Klaassen 7 (Berghuis 66); Gakpo 7 (Weghorst 83), Depay 6 (Janssen 66).
Goals: Gakpo (26), De Jong (49).
Substitutes not used: Pasveer, De Ligt, De Vrij, Bergwijn, De Jong, Lang, Bijlow, Malacia, Simons, Frimpong.
Qatar (5-3-2): Barsham 6; Ismail 6 (Khidir 86), Pedro 5, Khoukhi 6, Abdelkarim 6, Homam 6; Aziz 6 (Alaaeldin 85), Madibo 5 (Boudiaf 64), Alhaydos 5 (Assadalla 64); Almoez 5 (Muntari 64), Afif 5.
Substitutes not used: Al Sheeb, Jadoua Al Bayati, Odeh, Mazeed, Al Hajri, Ali, Al Hadhrami, Abdulsallam, Meshaal.
Referee: Bakary Gassama (Gambia).
Netherlands 2 Qatar 0: As it happened
Netherlands win the group without convincing
They proceed with seven points, Senegal behind them with six, Ecuador with four and Qatar with nixh.
James Ducker's full-time observations
Stadium was not even half full with 10 minutes to go. The Qatari "fans" had seen enough. And so, so long Qatar, the worst hosts in the history of the World Cup. South Africa were the only other host nation not to get out of the group but they at least managed four points in the "group of death" in 2010, beating the 1998 champions France along the way, and only exiting on goal difference. Qatar did not register a solitary point and scored only one goal.
Full time: Netherlands 2 Qatar 0
Netherlands saunter to the top of the group with a run of the mill victory over the tournament's weakest side. A well-taken goal from Gakpo was the only real highlight. The hosts depart pointless, the first hosts to go out without a solitary point for solace.
Netherlands will play the runners-up of Group B who, if (and that is doing a lot of lifting) England beat Wales, will be the winner of Iran vs USA. No, you jinxed England ...
90+4 min: Netherlands 2 Qatar 0
Qatar cannot fault their keeper. Barsham comes to claim a cross solidly. There has been a gulf in quality manifest in every one of their group games that cannot be masked by organisation and heart.
90+2 min: Netherlands 2 Qatar 0
Berghuis opens his body under no pressure from the Qatar defence and spanks a left foot shot from the right of the D on to cross bar inches before it meets the right post.
90 min: Netherlands 2 Qatar 0
Six minutes of stoppage time have been signalled. This game could do with a coup de grace. Not so much a cakewalk as an inevitable victory.
88 min: Netherlands 2 Qatar 0
The other Qatar player brought on was Alaaeldin.
Ally McCoist notes that all 10 subs have been brought on and not for the first time this tournament bemoans the expansion from three to five permitted changes. I agree wholeheartedly. It's changing the fundamentals of the game. Get back to three max asap. This isn't rugby.
85 min: Netherlands 2 Qatar 0
Weghorsts strays offside to trap Blind's chip on his chest.
Hatem and Muhammad are going off. Kheddir and AN Other are coming on. Sorry, didn't see.
Netherlands introduce Kenny Taylor and give De Jong a breather.
83 min: Netherlands 2 Qatar 0
Here come two Dutch changes, both players coming on have had minutes before. It's the 6ft 6in Wout Weghorst and Teun Koopmeiners, taking the places of Gakpo and De Roon, I think.
81 min: Netherlands 2 Qatar 0
It's strange that Van Gaal hasn't made his three other permissible changes. Xavi Simons and Noa Lang could do with a run.
78 min: Netherlands 2 Qatar 0
Ismail Mohammad has been Qatar's best player. He has plenty of speed but has been starved of service down the right. Muntari gets to the byline on the left but his cross is blocked.
76 min: Netherlands 2 Qatar 0
At last a Qatari player lets fly from distance but Hatem scuffs his 25 yard effort as the defence melted away before him and all Noppert had to do was flop on top of it.
75 min: Netherlands 2 Qatar 0
As it stands, the winners of Group B would play Senegal and the runners-up Netherlands.
73 min: Netherlands 2 Qatar 0
Netherlands are probing away in front of the Qatar back five. It looks like shadow play.
71 min: Netherlands 2 Qatar 0
In the other match Ecuador equalised against Senegal which moves them into second place at Senegal's expense ... but Senegal have just retaken the lead. So now they're in second.
Gakpo's arm went towards the ball and he controlled it with his arm, just below the short sleeve. From there De Jong beat the offside trap with his pass to Janssen who rolled it across for Berghuis to tap in.
Hang on it's going to Var
The ball came off Gakpo's biceps.
Netherlands 3 Qatar 0 (Berghuis)
68 min: Netherlands 2 Qatar 0
A bit too much air has gone out of the Qatari balloon.
64 min: Netherlands 2 Qatar 0
Double Dutch substitution: (Buffalo Gals go around the outside): Berghuis and Janssen replace Depay and Klaassen.
62 min: Netherlands 2 Qatar 0
Both managers are preparing to ring the changes. Qatar go first. Al-Haydos, Ali and Madibo; Boudiaf, Muntari and Asad come on.
James Ducker reports
Just the start to the second half Louis van Gaal would have wanted. Great save at far post to deny Depay after Klaassen's cross inadvertently flicked on by a white shirt but Pedro was very slow to react to clear and De Jong steals in to score. 2-0
58 min: Netherlands 2 Qatar 0
Afif plays a pass down the outside for Miguel, the hypotenuse in a triangle with Mohammed and the Portuguese-born centre-back. The cross, when it comes from the byline, is too deep and Netherlands scramble it away.
Van Gaal has a big smile plastered on that Easter Island face.
56 min: Netherlands 2 Qatar 0
Pedro brings it forward down the right and shifts it over to the left. Afif takes it on and Timber slides in to block his pass and, like Uruguay's Gimenez last night, slips and the ball hits his supporting hand as he puts it down to break his fall. Last night a penalty. Tonight? Play on.
53 min: Netherlands 2 Qatar 0
Al-Haydos is game, taking it down the left but the stuffing has been knocked out of Qatar and no one comes to his support. He turns round and has no option but to stroke a pass back into midfield.
Netherlands 2 Qatar 0 (De Jong) Poor Barsham. Dumfries stands still on the right while being jockeyed by Ahmed then passes it back to Klaassen. The Ajax playmaker whips over a cross that Khouki goes up to win but backheads it to the far post. All but the keeper Barsham go to sleep and Depay pounces to hammer a half-volley from four yards out. Barsham makes a brave point-blank save but no one comes to his assistance and De Jong is in like Flynn to stab the rebound over the goal-line.
48 min: Netherlands 1 Qatar 0
Good run by Al-Haydos through the middle, making 30 yards before spraying a pass out to Mohammad on the right. This time they have bodies in the box, a welcome half-time change, but Van Dijk meets the cross and boots it to safety.
46 min: Netherlands 1 Qatar 0
Qatar earn a free-kick on the left from the kick-off but Ake heads the deep cross away from danger.
James Ducker's half-time verdict from Al Bayt
The Al Bayt looked like it would be barely half full 15 minutes before kick off but it's much fuller now than at the start of the game and it seems Hayya card holders have been allowed free entry into the game which, if nothing else, has certainly swelled the numbers. 1-0 to Holland at half-time. Not a classic to say the least but Cody Gakpo's goal a moment of individual brilliance
Be judgmental. Knock yourselves out:
Half-time: Netherlands 1 Qatar 0
The Dutch are just doing enough but can't find the higher gears. Qatar show no signs of wanting to depart on their shields by throwing their innate caution to the wind and getting Afif and Ali into the box at the same time. The one thing we have to treasure from all that dross is Gakpo's finish. Here it is:
45+3 min: Netherlands 1 Qatar 0
When Netherlands do bother to move the ball forward with some urgency, Klaassen is the only one with consistently precise passing. They lose the ball a couple of times before Klaassen flicks it to Depay 22 yards out but the Barcelona forward, who looks like Beckham at 2002 or Rooney at 2006, not exactly lame but lacking the vitality of match-fitness, lacking spark, drags a shot miles wide.
45+1 min: Netherlands 1 Qatar 0
De Jong is walking in possession by the centre-circle as the Dutch knock it about with their cigars lit.
45 min: Netherlands 1 Qatar 0
The fourth official signals three minutes of stoppage time for those minor head knocks early in the first half.
42 min: Netherlands 1 Qatar 0
Decent spell of possession from Qatar, pinging passes around their defence and midfield with their strikers dropping deep to help out. But Netherlands are happy to keep them in that sterile zone 35 yards from their goal.
40 min: Netherlands 1 Qatar 0
Gakpo is caught offside but not before he shows us his wonderful touch when he takes De Roon's overhit pass, fizzed a la Gerrard, with his left to knock it up for a right-foot half volley from 18 yards. But he blazes it over in any case. Nice trap, shame about the shot.
James Ducker reports from Al Khor
What a fine tournament Cody Gakpo is having. His third goal in Qatar puts the Dutch 1-0 up against the hosts and doubtless adds another few million to his asking price. What's noticeable about Gakpo, apart from his intelligent movement, pace and quick feet, is his precision in front of goal. That was not an easy chance by any means but he rifles a superb shot from outside the area into the far corner after a slick one-two with Davy Klaassen.
36 min: Netherlands 1 Qatar 0
Decent, pacy run from Mohammad down the right, costing Ake a lung-bursting recovery run to keep up.
34 min: Netherlands 1 Qatar 0
Qatar could have done with an extra white shirt in the box when Afif tries to find Ali but they are just too conservative.
31 min: Netherlands 1 Qatar 0
Dumfries pushes Ahmed over after a Duitch attack breaks down when Klaassen is block-tackled by Hatem. From the free-kick Qatar send Miguel on another of his surges up the right wing but De Roon matches his stride and strong-arms him off the ball.
29 min: Netherlands 1 Qatar 0
Courtesy of Clive Tyldesley, I can tell you that Gakpo scoring in three successive World Cup matches puts him on a par with Wesley Sneijder, Johan Neeskens and Dennis Bergkamp,
Netherlands 1 Qatar 0 (Gakpo) It's that man again. Three goals, three games. Depay taps it infield to Klaassen who plays a cute reverse pass into Gakpo's feet. The PSV forward was making the perfect third man run into the space between Miguel and Khouki. He takes a touch, then another to tack from inside right to inside left before wrapping his right instep round a shot thahe he spears into the bottom right corner.
26 min: Netherlands 0 Qatar 0
Someone has an old-fashioned car horn in the crowd, honking away like a goose with Tourettes.
24 min: Netherlands 0 Qatar 0
Good attack from Qatar, Ahmed beating Dumfries to a crossfield, winning the header and going past him to earn a corner. Qatar commit five into the box and Al-Haydos stands up a deep cross from the second phase. Van Dijk heads it behind, backpedalling. The second corner finds Hassan but he can't keep his bludgeoned header on target.
21 min: Netherlands 0 Qatar 0
Dumfries is protesting a foul awarded against him for straightening his ram when running parallel with Ahmed and fending him over. He is joined by De Roon and Klaassen who are acting as if they appear to think the referee's a homer.
Netherlands corner on the right. Klaassen splits to the near post, looking for a Gilzean snide glancer but applies too much brow and steers it off target. A kiss of the eyebrows and no more was required.
17 min: Netherlands 0 Qatar 0
Depay is exasperated after being penalised for backing into Miguel who had his arms all over him 20 yards out.
15 min: Netherlands 0 Qatar 0
De Jong and Depay play a one-two on the edge of the box and De Jong lets fly with his right when he receives it back. Klaassen has taken a defender out of the way to open up the path to goal but De Jong's shot hits his team-mate's backside and rebounds to Depay who cloths his half-volley over the bar.
12 min: Netherlands 0 Qatar 0
Daley Blind flies down the left, plays a one-two with Klaassen who turns a classy pass back round the corner. Blind takes the return and bounds to the byline before cutting a pass back to Gakpo which he hits and Barsham makes a spectacular-looking but essentially rudimentary save. Depay was better placed for the pass.
10 min: Netherlands 0 Qatar 0
Afif takes the free-kick after the clash of heads and whips it into the box but a sea of orange shirts floods the two committed Qatar forwards and force the ball away by sheer weight of numbers.
9 min: Netherlands 0 Qatar 0
Ahmed has a bump to the head after going up for a header in his own box and a minute after he is checked Mohammad and Blind clash heads and both need a moment.
6 min: Netherlands 0 Qatar 0
The Dutch carve a massive swathe down the inside-left channel, or rather Qatar invite them in with some after you, Claud defending. First Gakpo has a hack(po) and then Klaassen's shot from the rebound is smothered by a rather desperate defensive scramble.
Rate the players
Who made his mark, and what mark did you give him?
3 min: Netherlands 0 Qatar 0
Hatem presses a buzzer that electrifies the crowd when he latches on t0 a shoddy pass and hammers a shot from 25 yards straight down Noppert's throat.
1 min: Netherlands 0 Qatar 0
Always a good way to start a game when you hear it's Ally McCoist in the co-commentator's seat. Dumfries gives Depay an early chance to stretch his hamstrings with a chip over the top, His hamstrings hold up but he can't get there before it skips out of play for a goal-kick.
Is Gambia's Bakary Gassama who, coincidentally, was the man in the middle for Holland's 2-0 victory over Chile at the 2014 WOrld Cup, when Depay scored the Oranje's second. The only other survivor on the pitch is Daley Blind (and Louis van Gaal in the dugout).
Time for the national ahthems
Het Wilhelmus, first, with its festive melody, followed by As-Salam al-Amiri. Let's call it a score draw.
The teams are in the tunnel
Virgil van Dijk at the head of the Dutch side, Hassan al-Haydos leads his men out.
Right, let's have your predictions
For Netherlands 3 Qatar 0. What do you reckon?
A welcome return
In the ITV box for Nadia Nadim whose mother died last week. Asked to pay tribute to her mother who was killed in a road accident, Nadim told Laura Woods: “She was a very strong woman who inspired not only me, a lot of people around her. Obviously, I’m sad. But, on the other hand, she raised us to be strong, and I think this is how also to show how to be strong, and I want to make her proud. I know she wanted me to be here."
And welcome to coverage of the last round of games in Group A, These used to be staggered, until the Disgrace of Gijón in 1982, but we can't have nice things any more thanks to West Germany and Austria. Not that it made any competitive sense in the first place. So thank you Jüpp Derwall. Georg Schmidt and Felix Latzke.
We begin with the team news as the Netherlands look for the victory over the exiting hosts that would secure them first place in Group A and a last 16 match against the team in second place in Group B which could be any one of England, Wales, USA or Iran.
And the big news is ... Louis van Gaal sticks with three at the back but he does make two changes, bringing in Memphis Depay, who has made campo appearances while recovering from his thigh strain, and Marten De Roon for Steven Bergwijn and Teun Koopmeiners.
Netherlands Noppert; Timber, Van Dijk, Ake; Dumfries, De Roon, Frenkie de Jong, Blind; Klaassen, Gakpo, Depay.
Substitutes Pasveer, de Ligt, de Vrij, Bergwijn, Luuk de Jong, Berghuis, Lang, Bijlow, Malacia, Janssen, Weghorst, Koopmeiners, Taylor, Simons, Frimpong.
Qatar Barsham, Mohammad, Deus Correia, Khoukhi, Abdelkarim Hassan, Ahmed, Al-Haydos, Madibo, Hatem, Ali, Afif.
Substitutes Al-Sheeb, Waad, Salman, Alaaeldin, Assadalla, Muntari, Boudiaf, Khoder, Al-Rawi, Muneer, Al-Hajri, Yousef Hassan, Al-Hadhrami, Gaber, Mashaal.
Qatar's manager Felix Sanchez spent yesterday defending his record and arguing that he deserves to stay on regardless of whether his team depart their own tournament without a point or another goal. "We need to take into consideration our context. We are a country with a reduced population, this is our first World Cup, our first experience in such a tournament. "he said.
"I don't feel disappointed or embarrassed. I think these players have shown they can compete in many competitions. A World Cup is the most demanding competition. Obviously, we all think things didn't turn out well, or at least as we expected them, but also we are still slightly behind.
"We can come back to this tournament and show a more competitive level, but this is part of a process. The country will continue working so that the next time Qatar comes to a World Cup, hopefully soon, we will be able to compete better than we did this time."
Louis van Gaal knows he has no job security as Ronnie Koeman has already been appointed to succeed him but has his eyes on a higher prize, making the Dutch world champions for the first time.
"I hope this [saying the target is to win the competition] is no pressure at all. Because I think you always have to identify the goal, the purpose for which you are here, and then you can work your way towards that purpose. If you don't identify that purpose and say 'the last 16 or the quarter-finals is enough', that isn't the right way to do things.
"I never said we're going to become world champion, I said we can become it, that we have a chance, and the players have also become convinced of that."