MX23RW : Tuesday, September 28 08:28:53| >> :600:934247:934247:
Oct 10, 2017 at 7.45pm UK
Robben (16' pen., 40')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Live Commentary: Netherlands 2-0 Sweden - as it happened

Relive how Netherlands missed out on World Cup qualification despite a 2-0 win over Sweden, courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates from Amsterdam.

Netherlands fell short of World Cup qualification despite a 2-0 victory over Sweden at the Amsterdam ArenA tonight.

The Dutch needed to win by seven goals to secure a playoff opportunity to reach Russia 2018 at Sweden's expense.

Arjen Robben scored two contrasting first-half goals - one a scuffed panenka penalty and the other a 25-yard screamer, to give the hosts some half-time hope.

However, Sweden remained calm and took Netherlands' best shots before seeing out the game to secure second place in Group A on goal difference.

Relive how the action unfolded courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates.

"There can be miracles, when you believe."

I hope the Dutch are blasting out Leon Jackson in the changing room tonight because they are going to need a miracle to make the World Cup playoffs at Sweden's expense this evening, when second versus third in Group A meet in Amsterdam.

The equation for Netherlands does not make good reading. They need to beat Sweden by seven goals tonight to progress to the playoffs as runners-up to France. Stranger things have happened in football. Actually, I can't think of any, except maybe this...

Boy did Dick Advocaat tempt fate in his press conference prior to Saturday's qualifiers...

Sweden's "impossible" 8-0 hammering of Luxembourg all but secured their passage into the playoffs, and killed Holland's dreams of reaching Russia 2018. Advocaat's side beat Belarus 3-1 in Minsk on Saturday to stay level on points with the Swedes, but they have a vastly inferior goal difference.

The Swedes can actually still win Group A if they beat Netherlands and leaders France slip up at home to Belarus. The Scandinavians are one point behind the 2016 European Championship finalists as it stands.

Let's get to the team news:

NETHERLANDS: Cillessen; Tete, Van Dijk, Rekik, Ake; Blind, Wijnaldum, Vilhena; Robben, Janssen, Babel

SWEDEN: Olsen; Lustig, Lindelöf, Granqivst, Augustinsson; Claesson, Johansson, Larsson, Forsberg; Toivonen, Berg

Advocaat could have chosen to give some new faces an opportunity tonight, but he has made only two changes from the team which beat Belarus at the weekend. Brighton midfielder Davy Propper and Watford full-back Daryl Janmaat drop out for defenders Nathan Ake and Kenny Tete.

It looks as though Holland will be lining up in their classic 4-3-3 formation, with Arjen Robben and former Liverpool forward Ryan Babel, recalled after six years, flanking Vincent Janssen, who is on loan at Fenerbahce after a awful first season at Tottenham. He has scored twice in four games already for the Turks, though.

Daley Blind is his country's Mr. Versatile. He has been used at left-back by Manchester United this season, but it appears as though Ake has that spot this evening, with Blind moved into central midfield.

A former United teammate of Blind and one of the big Premier League transfer flops - Memphis Depay - is among the home substitutes, as is Everton playmaker Davy Klaasen, who has yet to make an impact at Goodison Park following his £24m summer switch from Ajax.

Understandably, Sweden are unchanged from their rout of Luxembourg. Victor Lindelof's chances at Old Trafford have been few and far between this season, but he starts in central defence alongside captan Andreas Granqvist, who is now of Krasnodar in Russia but is formerly of Wigan Athletic.

Full-back Mikael Lustig of Celtic adds to the British-based contingent in the visiting XI, which also includes the very recognisable name of Sebastian Larsson. The Hull City midfielder is winning his 94th cap this evening.

Marcus Berg leads the attack hoping to add to the four goals that he bagged against one of European football's whipping boys, but the jewel in Sweden's crown is attacking midfielder Emil Forsberg, who plies his trade for exciting Bundesliga team RB Leipzig but has been linked to the Premier League.

To put Netherlands' task tonight into perspective, in their previous 24 matches against Sweden, they have found the net 45 times at an average of 1.8 per game. And in their nine qualifiers, they have scored 19 goals in nine matches.

Holland's World Cup destiny would be firmly in their hands had it not been for a couple of slip ups earlier in the campaign. The away defeat to Bulgaria, after which Danny Blind was sacked as manager, is where they will look back at crucial points dropped.

The managerial change came too late for Dick Advocaat to make a real impact. Netherlands have won three of four World Cup qualifiers under the former Sunderland boss, with the only poor result being the 4-0 thrashing by France.

It is difficult to believe that Netherlands are not going to qualify for successive major tournaments - the first time that has happened since the mid 1980s - considering that they were World Cup finalists only seven years ago.

But it really is a sorry time for Dutch football - in August they fell to their lowest FIFA World Ranking of (36), six years after being number one.

This fall from grace is a little easier to understand when we list some names of players who have retired from international football since 2010: Robin van Persie, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Mark van Bommel, Dirk Kuyt, Nigel de Jong and Rafael van der Vaart.

Also, the two biggest stars of the 2010 team - Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben - are now long past their best.

Having said that, Robben is Netherlands' top goalscorer in qualifying with four goals. Janssen and Depay have chipped in with five between them, but this is a Dutch side lacking in sexy football, for sure.

The Netherlands captain has written of his side's chances of a miracle result:

He told ONS: "After Sweden's result you can't do anything else other than play with your chest out, but an 8-0 win in Belarus [was not going to] happen. And a 7-0 win at home to Sweden isn't going to happen."

Inconsistency of selection and availability has also been a major problem for Netherlands. Only two players have featured in all nine qualifiers - Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum and Manchester United's Daley Blind. Funny, my dad never used to pick me for Wollaton FC Under-11s.

Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Denmark, Italy and Croatia have already booked their places in the head-to-head playoffs. Sweden are within touching distance of joining them after a solid campaign under new manager Janne Andersson, who had been somewhat of a Swedish league journeyman before taking IFK Norrkoping to the league title in 2016.

Although Sweden too slipped up away at Bulgaria (possibly a tougher fixture than I'm giving it credit for) they made amends by beating star-studded France, who are heavily fancied to go all the way in Russia, 2-1 in Solna in June.

Their 1-1 draw at home to tonight's opponents is now looking a much better result than it did at the start of the campaign.

In Zlatan's absence, players like Forsberg have really stepped up to the plate with four goals this campaign. On double that tally is 31-year-old forward Berg, although half of his eight goals came against Luxembourg last weekend.

Sweden are the top scorers in Group A, outgunning the Griezmann, Mbappe, Lacazette, Dembele, Giroud, Martial frontline of France 26 goals to 19. Their success has been built on a tight defence though too, as they have conceded only seven times in nine qualifiers.

Less than 10 minutes until kickoff in Amsterdam, where the fireworks are out to try to drum up an atmosphere. An early goal or two might get the crowd going. Am I clutching at straws? Absolutely. But I've got to make it sound interesting! What am I supposed to do? Tell you to watch the Bake Off?!

It was a dramatic night in qualifying last night as the Republic of Ireland reached the playoffs at Wales' expense. Any Welsh fans watching tonight can at least take solace in the fact that Netherlands will have next summer off too.

HEAD TO HEAD: Netherlands have only won two of their last seven matches against Sweden, either side of their run to the 2010 World Cup final. Those victories were 3-1 and 4-1; how about an 8-1 tonight?

The players are out and standing for the national anthems. Not many smiles on Dutch faces, but Virgil van Dijk does have more than one reason to be glum. The Swedes look pumped and focused, with their eyes on usurping France rather than dealing with the Dutch threat.

KICKOFF: Netherlands get us underway in their famous orange strip...

Karim Rekik crashes into Toivonen to concede an early free kick. Ludwig Augustinsson's delivery is into a decent area and met by Granqvist, but he fouled his marker while winning the header.

Former Manchester City youngster Rekik, earning only his third cap tonight, has started nervously. Sweden have had much of the ball in the early stages and are trying to hit Toivonen up top.

Injuries to Stoke's Bruno Martins Indi and Lazio's highly-rated Stefan de Vrij have given Rekik this opportunity alongside Van Dijk, who is badly in need of match fitness after sitting out the start of the Premier League season.

Robben does his trademark cut-inside-and-shoot move, testing Sweden keeper Robin Olsen for the first time tonight. There was not much power behind the effort and Olsen held comfortably.

Ake plays a nice give-and-go with Babel but his cross towards Janssen is cut out. The Bournemouth defender is playing at left-back, having established himself as a centre-half at Dean Court.

Tete scuffs a wild volley from the right edge of the box at a 90 degree angle, and Robben opportunistically looks to head the ball goalwards from 12 yards out but the ball sails over the crossbar.

Sweden counter through Toivonen but his pass to Berg, who would have been one-on-one with Southampton's Van Dijk, was behind the 31-year-old striker and a good opening goes begging.

PENALTY! Penalty to Netherlands for handball against Lindelof, who scuffs a clearance into his own arm.


One down, six to go! Robben converts from the spot, although in truly horrible fashion. He tries a dink down the middle and completely miscues it, but it sneaks over the line despite Olsen making some contact with his swinging foot.

Babel makes a good out-to-in run to try to latch onto Van Dijk's ball in behind, but he ducks out at the last minute as the charging Olsen comes off his line to claim the ball.

CHANCE! Sweden should be level, but Berg heads straight at Jasper Cillessen from Larsson's wonderful set-piece delivery. He only gets a glance on the cross; anything more and Cillessen would have stood no chance from point-blank range.

Toivonen spins away from Van Dijk and unleashes a long-range shot which the Liverpool target deflects over for a corner. Holland have already shown vulnerability defending dead-ball situations.

Tony Vilhena knocks a ball towards the back post, where Wijnaldum had made a typical late run into the box. Lustig jumps to beat the Reds midfielder to the ball and clear the immediate danger.

Robben wants a free kick 25 yards out for what he feels is a foul by Larsson, but, not for the first time in his career, the winger made the most of the tackle. The hosts are looking for their captain at every opportunity.

CHANCE! Robben's shot from a free kick is charged down and the ball falls nicely to Wijnaldum 12 yards out. He takes a split second too long on the ball and Lindelof makes an important intervention.

Ake swings a ball into the box which Janssen meets at the near post, but Granqvist checks his run and blocks the shot to prevent Olsen being worked in the Sweden goal.

UPDATE: France lead Belarus 1-0 thanks to a goal from Antoine Griezmann, so Les Bleus are on their way to top spot in Group A and Sweden just need to make sure second is secure.

SHOT! Larsson this time is pulled up for getting too close to Robben. Babel takes on the free kick from 30 yards and has Olsen scrambling across his goal with a low, curling effort which finishes just wide of the post.

Slight break in play as Berg receives treatment following a clash of heads with Ake. Apparently the ex-Chelsea defender's big bush of hair did not soften the blow.

Fantastic covering defending from Ake at the back post, as he gets across Berg to beat him to the ball from opposite number Augustinsson. Rekik had gone walkabout and needed Ake to bail him out of trouble.

MISS! Babel whips a great ball across the six-yard box and Tete blazes over the crossbar from six yards out. On a night when Holland have to take every chance, every half-chance they get, that is an absolutely unforgivable miss from the young right-back.

The recalled Babel has come alive in the last few minutes, and he cuts inside Lustig before shooting powerfully towards the near post. Olsen saves well and reacts quickly to save from Janssen's difficult rebound.


What an unbelievable hit this is from Robben, who has got Amsterdam rocking with a second goal for the Dutch. Babel's cutback has plenty of pace on it and Robben whips it first time beyond Olsen and inside the far corner. Truly world-class technique from the veteran and his animated celebration suggests that he feels this miracle is achievable.

Janssen beats the offside trap but does not have the pace to control Tete's lofted pass. The Tottenham outcast would have been through one-on-one had he managed to bring that under.

The Sweden physio is on again to tend to Viktor Claesson, who caught a nasty one on the ankle from Blind. The United star would be suspended for the first leg of the playoff if he did pick up a yellow card tonight, but that is the least of Oranje's concerns right now.

As the board shows TWO minutes of stoppage time, a promising Netherlands attack breaks down when Robben's pass is behind the marauding Tete. A third before half time would really get the Dutch going.


Arjen Robben has given Netherlands the tiniest glimmer of hope with two half-time goals, which leaves his side needing five more, unanswered, in the second half. While still highly, highly improbable, it isn't absolutely out of the question.

The Dutch captain had a huge slice of luck for his first, and a hand from Man United defender Lindelof who gave away a penalty which Robben scuffed past Olsen. If there was any fortune about that goal, the second was pure class - an outstanding first-time strike from 20 yards.

It should have been even better for the hosts, with Wijnaldum and Tete, in particular, missing golden chances to eat into the deficit that Netherlands need to make up. If they are going to get to the playoffs, Robben might have to drag them there single-handedly.

The Bayern Munich winger is so pumped up for this match, and that might be because it is his last game in that famous Oranje shirt. He was seen crying before kickoff and, at 33 years of age, this could be the time for him to hang up his international boots.

Sweden have played right into Holland's hands, sitting very deep when it is clear this Dutch defence is very vulnerable. They had a couple of decent chances from set pieces in the opening 15 minutes but have otherwise showed very little. One goal would kill Dutch spirits and manager Janne Andersson would do well to remember that.

UPDATE: Elsewhere in Europe tonight, France are on course to top Group A as they lead Belarus 2-1. Portugal appear poised to pip Switzerland to automatic qualification thanks to Joao Mario's goal giving them a half-time advantage. Greece will join the Swiss in the playoffs if they hold onto their lead against minnows Gibraltar, knocking out Slovakia in the process.

KICKOFF: Sweden get the second half underway, with Dick Advocaat having made a substitution by bringing on Bas Dost for Janssen. A striker for a striker when they need five goals shows how married to the 4-3-3 system the Dutch really are.

Dost gets a flick on which Wijnaldum just can't latch onto, which could be a familiar pattern in this second half with Netherlands hitting Dost with a long ball and midfield runners getting in behind. That is another way for Sweden to be broken down, aside from moments of Robben magic.

Sweden are taking their time over every set piece and spending plenty of time on the floor in the early stages of the second half. It is part of the game but this time wasting is frustrating when you're invested in Netherlands' monumental task.

The hosts work the ball well on the left but Vilhena's cross is way overhit and Sweden clear.

Ake is amazed when he is penalised for the type of well-contested header that would have been greeted with cheers in the Premier League. There is such a difference in the levels of physicality deemed fair in English and international football.

BOOKING: Celtic right-back Lusting picks up a needless yellow card for time wasting at a throw-in, which he will regret as that means that he will be suspended for the first leg of the playoff.

Olsen flaps at a cross from Tete but the loose ball falls to a yellow shirt.

The Dost-Wijnaldum pops up again, with the big target man winning a knockdown which Wijnaldum volleys straight at Olsen. That was a difficult chance for the Liverpool midfielder; not too much more he could have done with it.

Time is ticking away for the Dutch, who would have hoped to have chipped away with one or two more goals in the opening 15 minutes of the second half. Five goals in half an hour seems impossible.

It has been a good couple of minutes for Sweden, who enjoyed their best passing move of the game but are merely content with keeping possession, rather than attacking the Dutch goal.

The crowd are sensing that this is going to be a few steps too far for Netherlands. The Amsterdam ArenA, which is to be renamed the Johan Cruyff Arena later this month, was rocking after the second goal but has really quietened now as their team struggle to make a third breakthrough.

SUBSTITUTION: A first change for the Swedes as Gustav Svensson replaces Viktor Claesson in midfield.

First chance of the second half for the Swedes as a mistake from Daley Blind sets up a two-on-two situation. Toivonen sets up Forsberg for a long-range shot which flies 10 yards over the crossbar.

SUBSTITUTION: Advocaat turns to Premier League players with his final two substitutions, with Daryl Janmaat and Davy Klaasen coming on for Tete and Wijnaldum, more in hope than expectation.

This game has completely fizzled out, and Netherlands have lost their legs. They are showing little ingenuity and are hitting Dost with minimal success. On this display, the World Cup wouldn't miss either of these teams.

SUBSTITUTION: A second change for the visitors, with former Sunderland loanee Toivonen spared the last 15 minutes as Isaac Kiese Thelin of Belgium's Waasland-Beveren comes on.

SHOT! Dost strikes wide on the volley from 20 yards with a decent effort, but that isn't really what the Sporting Lisbon striker is designed for. He hasn't had the service to do much else unfortunately, since his half-time introduction.

SUBSTITUTION: A third and final change for the Swedes, with this game now very much going through the motions. Swansea's Martin Olsson gets a run out in place of Sebastian Larsson, who has put in an excellent shift for his side.

Robben, one man who can be very proud of his performance tonight, whips in a free kick which Dost heads over the crossbar. He was looking for a glancing header at the near post but got too much on his effort.

Concern for Jose Mourinho here, with Daley Blind limping around in the final few minutes. Blind will surely be needed at the weekend with Paul Pogba, Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini already injury absentees in midfield.

Great feet from Robben as he works himself some space in the box, but his left-footed prod is easily gathered at the near post like Olsen. He has played like it is his last game for Netherlands, and it would be no shock to me if he confirms that in the aftermath of this result.

Powerful run down the left from Olsson but Isaac Kiese Thelin does not read the cutback.


That's it then; Netherlands will not be going to the 2018 World Cup, despite Arjen Robben's best efforts. His two goals see the Dutch finish level on points with Sweden in Group A, but the Scandinavians superior goal difference books them a playoff place.

Sweden will find out next Tuesday who they will face in the head-to-head fixtures, and we could find out before then about Robben's international future after a potential farewell performance to be proud of.

Thanks for joining Sports Mole for our coverage from Amsterdam. Read our match report on the game here, and check in on all of tonight's other World Cup qualifiers via our results page. The Premier League is back at the weekend, so goodbye until then!

ID:309246: cacheID:309246:1false2false3false:QQ:: from db desktop :LenBod:restore:38076:
Restore Data
Share this article now:
Did you know...?
Virgil van Dijk is loving life after the Premier League game between Crystal Palace and Southampton on September 16, 2017
Read Next:
Van Dijk called up to Netherlands squad

rhs 2.0
Todays Game Header Right
2Manchester CityMan City64111211113
4Manchester UnitedMan Utd6411135813
6Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton641185313
7West Ham UnitedWest Ham6321138511
8Aston Villa631297210
11Tottenham HotspurSpurs630349-59
13Leicester CityLeicester6213710-37
14Wolverhampton WanderersWolves620435-26
15Crystal Palace613269-36
17Newcastle UnitedNewcastle6033714-73
18Leeds UnitedLeeds6033614-83
20Norwich CityNorwich6006216-140

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!