Memphis Depay scored twice to help the Netherlands get their World Cup qualifying campaign back on track with an emphatic 4-0 victory over Montenegro in Saturday’s Group G clash.
Louis van Gaal’s first game in his third spell in charge ended in a 1-1 draw in Norway on Wednesday, but the Oranje produced a much improved display at Philips Stadion.
Depay fired the Netherlands into a deserved first-half lead from the penalty spot and doubled his tally just after the hour mark with a clinical finish.
Georginio Wijnaldum added a third and Cody Gakpo scored his first international goal as the Netherlands picked up a win that keeps them level with Norway and one point behind Group G leaders Turkey, whom they face next.
Montenegro entered the game level on points with their opponents and felt they should have had a penalty when Adam Marusic went down under pressure from Frenkie de Jong.
The Netherlands were otherwise on top and went close through a Davy Klaassen header that hit the crossbar before their breakthrough arrived seven minutes before half-time.
Dusan Lagator dragged down Depay in the box and the Barcelona forward blasted the resulting penalty towards the top-right corner, sending Matija Sarkic the wrong way.
Milutin Osmajic wasted a promising opportunity for Montenegro early in the second half and Stefan Mugosa blazed over after pouncing on a terrible Tyrell Malacia backpass.
Those misses proved costly as Depay sent a zipping low strike past Sarkic at his near post after being played in by fellow forward Gakpo.
It was a familiar story eight minutes later as Wijnaldum collected Steven Berghuis’ pass and calmly converted just moments after Mugosa scuffed a shot at Justin Bijlow.
The goal of the match belonged to PSV youngster Gakpo, who curled a glorious shot out of Sarkic’s reach from outside the box, capping a wonderful night on Van Gaal’s latest homecoming.
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Having dropped points in two of their opening four qualifiers, the Netherlands could not afford to slip up against a Montenegro side 55 places behind them in the FIFA rankings.
The hosts had a couple of scares either side of half-time but were undoubtedly good value for their victory, finding the net from four of their 12 shots on target.
Van Gaal will now be targeting an eighth straight win on home soil for his side in Tuesday’s clash with Turkey in what could effectively be a play-off for top spot in Group G.
Dazzling display from Depay
Depay has converted six of his seven penalties for the Netherlands – only Ronald Koeman (eight), Robin van Persie and Johan Neeskens (both seven) have scored more.
He added a second goal on what was his 70th cap for his country and also created a game-high six big chances, though none of those resulted in an assist.
Debutant Malacia let off
Malacia was handed his first appearance for the Netherlands, making him the 11th Feyenoord player to make his debut for the Dutch under Van Gaal.
The 22-year-old looked steady enough for the majority of the game, with only three players on the field managing more than his 90 touches, but his backpass when under no pressure should have been converted by Mugosa with the game at 1-0.
The Netherlands face Turkey in that top-of-the-table showdown in Amsterdam on Tuesday, while Montenegro are at home to Latvia on the same day in their next qualifier.