By Javier Yap – @javiervanderyap
The fast tempo and attacking mind of the Dutch was too much for the Marians Pahar’s side to handle with three goals coming from the Oranje in the first half.
Robin van Persie, the Dutch captain who is now 4 caps away from 100 for his country, opened the scoreline in the 5th minute with a header after being involved in the build up with Arjen Robben. The all time top Dutch scorer increased his tally to 49 with his goal.
There was a scare for the Dutch side when Daley Blind was taken off for Jordy Clasie in the 19th minute after taking a knock earlier on in the match. However, this didn’t seem to affect the exhilarating performance of Oranje.
The Dutch were in a completely different league to the Latvian side, winning 8 corners to Latvia’s 1 in the first half. With Holland maintaining an overwhelming amount of the possession before the 25 minute mark, it was only a matter of time before they turned their possession into goals.
Robben was involved again in his side’s 2nd goal in the 34th minute but was on the score sheet this time with a strike from his favoured left foot into the top-right corner from 25 yards.
There was a scream ignored for a handball just outside the penalty box close to half time for the Dutch. Nevertheless, this was soon made up for when Klaas-Jan Huntelaar made it three for his side minutes later.
The Latvians increased their pressure on the Dutch defence in the second half but failed to create any real chances. The frustration grew for the Latvians as they picked up their 2nd unnecessary yellow card of night in the 56th minute, when Robben was brought down by substitute Olegs Laizans.
Hiddink’s side seemed to have lost their flare in their previous qualifying matches, but the world class performances which earned them 3rd place at the World Cup four months ago in Brazil was back on show. The Netherlands made it look all too easy again in the 76th minute, as PSV Eindhoven centre back, Jeffrey Bruma scored his 1st international goal with a simple tap-in after van Persie’s touch, from a Wesley Sneijder corner kick.
It didn’t get much better for Pahar’s side when Arjen Robben scored his 2nd of the night. The Bayern Munich forward’s one-on-one near-post goal came minutes after receiving the captain’s armband from Robin van Persie. Georginio Wijnaldum came on for the leading Dutch goal scorer and provided the assist.
Robben was looking for his hat-trick, but it was teammate Huntelaar who found the back of the net just inside the penalty box, for Holland’s 6th and final goal of the night just before the full time mark. The Hunter is now the 3rd highest scorer for The Netherlands, with 38 goals in 68 appearances, surpassing Dennis Bergkamp’s record of 37 goals in 79 appearances.
The game was never looking in favour for the Latvian side after conceding three goals in the first half. Their attempts on goal were all comfortable for Dutch keeper, Jasper Cillessen.
The Dutch side suffered their worst start in the Euro qualifiers, picking up only 3 points in 3 matches which was unexpected for the side, favourite to top group A. However, their disappointments of have been somewhat restored with the scoreboard today.
Guus Hiddink remains coach of his national side, after announcing that he would quit his position with a loss against Latvia today. This result has extended the Oranje’s head to head tally against the Northern European side. The last time the two countries faced each other was in the 2004 European Championship group stages in Portugal, with the Dutch prevailing 3-0.
Arjen Robben was undoubtedly man-of-the-match with his scintillating display. The Bayern Munich forward proved that he is an unstoppable force when he is at his best.