The Netherlands claimed their first victory in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers on Saturday beating Latvia 2-0 in Amsterdam, but Turkey took control of Group G with an impressive victory over Norway.
Turkey, who beat the Dutch 4-2 on Thursday, earned two wins in two games as they crossed Erling Braut Haaland’s Norway in a game played in Malaga, Spain.
Montenegro also have six points in two outings after following their success against Latvia with a 4-1 home win over Gibraltar.
Dutch Frank de Boer gave the 5,000 spectators allowed to attend the Johan Cruyff Arena something to cheer on as Steven Berghuis’ 32nd-minute goal and Luuk de Jong’s strike in the second half split Latvia apart.
The Dutch players have followed in the footsteps of their group rivals Norway and Germany to protest for human rights in Qatar, where the 2022 World Cup final will take place.
The match was also the first World Cup qualifier to be refereed by a woman, under the direction of France’s Stephanie Frappart.
The Netherlands did not qualify for Euro 2016 or the 2018 World Cup, but are among the title favorites for this year’s delayed Euro 2020.
Fenerbahce midfielder Ozan Tufan scored twice as Turkey beat a dangerous Norwegian side 3-0.
Leicester center-back Caglar Soyuncu also put in a fine performance scoring the second goal and helping to keep Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland calm.
Earlier today, Stevan Jovetic scored three goals in two matches as Montenegro saw Gibraltar.
They are in second place in what appears to be a very competitive group, behind Turkey on goal difference.
Russia, a World Cup quarter-finalist at home three years ago, topped the first table in Group H with a 2-1 victory over Slovenia, who started their campaign by beating second , Croatia.
Artem Dzyuba’s brace in the first half proved sufficient for Russia in Sochi, although Atalanta striker Josip Ilicic halved the deficit before half-time.
Croatia struggled to regain their top form, but Mario Pasalic’s goal five minutes before the break helped Zlatko Dalic’s side beat Cyprus 1-0 in Rijeka.
Belarus came back from behind to win their first Group E game, 4-2 against Estonia, which was also beaten 6-2 by the Czech Republic on Wednesday.
The Czechs will be deprived of four key players based in Germany for their match against world number one Belgium on Saturday due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
In Group A, Portugal will face Serbia in Belgrade, hoping to improve on a disappointing performance in their first 1-0 victory over Azerbaijan.
© 2021 AFP