Dutch stage winning return to World Cup with win over Senegal

Three-time World Cup finalists the Netherlands returned to the biggest international stage after an eight-year absence, beating Senegal 2-0 on Monday in their Group A match with late goals from Cody Gakpo and substitute Davy Klaassen.

The Dutch, who had failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, have now gone 16 games without defeat since coach Louis van Gaal took over for a third time, making him the most successful Dutch coach with 38 wins, surpassing Dick Advocaat.

They also stretched an unbeaten record in their opening game at World Cups that dates back to 1938.

Yet they looked to be heading for a scrappy goalless draw after wasting several chances before man-of-the-match Gakpo beat goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to nod in Frenkie de Jong’s cross with the back of his head.

Klaassen then pounced on a weak Mendy save to score on the rebound nine minutes into stoppage time.

The Dutch join Ecuador, 2-0 winners over hosts Qatar on Sunday, on three points, with the top two meeting on Friday.

“At times we may have been too rushed and tried to force things,” said the Netherlands Captain Virgil van Dijk. “But in the end Cody did it very well.”