Dutch coach Louis van Gaal enters the 2022 World Cup with the most incredible record of any manager.
The Dutch are unbeaten in competitive football in 90 minutes under the Iron Tulip, having lost in the 2014 World Cup on penalties to Argentina. In fact, the last time Van Gaal tasted defeat in a game that meant anything, the Republic of Ireland beat the Oranje in 2001.
It’s over 20 years. Since then, LVG has returned to coaching Barcelona in a second spell, won titles at AZ Alkmaar and Bayern Munich before his stint as Manchester United manager, took the Netherlands to the European Cup semi-finals world in Brazil, retired from the game and then reversed that decision to once again lead his nation in Qatar.
Cody Gakpo opened the scoring after just five minutes and four seconds to score the first goal of the 2022 World Cup so far. The Dutch No.8, linked with a plethora of Premier League giants, latched on to a ball from Davy Klaassen after a hood from Manchester City defender Nathan Ake.
By scoring, Gakpo became the first player in the tournament to score in two separate games in the tournament. With Senegal beating Qatar 3-1 in the previous Group A match – and Gakpo has now scored two goals in the competition – there’s a real chance the PSV star will rack up his tally against hosts Qatar in the final group game to put themselves firmly in the Golden Boot frame before Enner Valencia took the lead, scoring their third of the competition when they equalized against the Dutch.
It was also a Dutch side without two starters, in Matthijs de Ligt and Memphis Depay – for two very different reasons. Watford’s Ismaila Sarr tore De Ligt to shreds in the Dutch opener against Senegal before Gakpo again found the breakthrough. The Bayern Munich centre-back found himself dropped for youngster Jurrien Timber – another product of Ajax’s famed academy – while Barcelona frontman Memphis Depay was only deemed fit enough to take part for a while. 45 minutes of this game.
Sure enough, Memphis – the Oranje’s second-highest goalscorer of all time behind former Arsenal and Manchester United striker Robin van Persie – arrived for the second 45 as a half-time substitute.
The Group A winner of the Netherlands and Ecuador will face the Group B runners-up of England and Wales in the Round of 16 of the World Cup.