Gakpo, De Jong help Netherlands top group with easy win over Qatar

Cody Gakpo netted his third goal in three games as the Netherlands comfortably beat World Cup hosts Qatar 2-0 at the Al Bayt Stadium on Tuesday to secure top spot in Group A and advance to the knockout stages.

The Dutch, who finished with seven points from their three group games, will be joined in the last 16 by Senegal, who knocked out Ecuador by beating them 2-1 to end up second on six points.

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The Qataris had been eliminated after their 3-1 loss to Senegal and despite huge investment in state-of-the-art facilities to host the World Cup, they came up short again on the pitch.

They were not without their moments in a dull first half, forcing a couple of corners and threatening on the edge of the Dutch area, but no sooner had they bared their teeth than they were hit with a gut-punch of a goal by Gakpo.

Davy Klaassen played an inviting ball into the path of the 23-year-old and he received it at pace, slicing through the heart of the defence before dispatching a well-placed shot past Meshaal Bersham to open the scoring in the 26th minute.

The goal was Gakpo's third in three games having scored in each group-stage match.

"Things can change of course but Cody Gakpo has everything it takes to become a star -- plus he has a wonderful personality to become a star player because he's openminded to everything," Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal said afterward.

Four minutes into the second half the Dutch struck again as a cross from Klaassen made its way to Depay and the Qatari defence was caught ball-watching as his shot was saved, allowing Frenkie de Jong to bundle it into the net.

With Qatar lacking the quality to mount a comeback, the Dutch had a goal ruled out after Gakpo was judged to have handled the ball in the build-up, but they still coasted to victory.

The final whistle signalled the start of the short wait for the Dutch to find out which of the Group B teams -- England, Wales, Iran or the United States -- they will meet in the last 16.

Van Gaal, though, had to face criticism of his team's performance from some members of the Dutch media after the game.

"I think people will be proud we're progressing," he responded. "You're always the one who asks these questions -- I think things aren't as bad as you say they are."

Asian champions Qatar will go back to the role of tournament hosts and plotting the future of the game in their country after registering the worst record of any host nation in World Cup history.

"We're a country of 6,000 football licensed players," Qatar coach Felix Sanchez said. "We've played tough games, in the first game we didn't reach our level, but our conclusions are realistic. You can use statistics, but we'll use our own assessment."