Netherlands beats Estonia 3-0 in WCup qualifier

The Netherlands made it five wins out of five World Cup

qualifiers on Friday after goals from Rafael van der Vaart and

Robin van Persie helped secure a comfortable 3-0 victory over

Estonia.

Substitute Van der Vaart opened the scoring with the

Netherlands’ first move of the second half, controlling a pass from

Daryl Janmaat before lashing a shot into the bottom right-hand

corner from the edge of the box.

Van Persie added a second goal after 72 minutes, firing home

from close range after another pass by Janmaat, before Ruben

Schaken scored the third in the 83rd.

The Netherlands remains top of Group D, with a perfect record of

15 points from five games, five points ahead of Hungary and

Romania. The last time the Dutch lost a World Cup qualifier was in

2001.

Van der Vaart came on for Wesley Sneijder after 36 minutes when

his teammate left the field with groin pain. The two are old

friends from their Ajax days but are now vying for the playmaker

spot. Coach Louis van Gaal said it was unlikely that Sneijder will

play Tuesday against Romania.

For his part, Van der Vaart was just pleased to have broken the

deadlock.

”It was a sharp pass, and then you have a little luck that

you’re able to turn with it,” he said. ”There wasn’t much

time.”

Estonia had two chances in the last moments of the first half

that might have changed the course of the game. Midfielder

Konstantin Vassiljev took a long range shot that Dutch keeper

Kenneth Vermeer parried – but only to Vassiljev’s feet. His second

effort was more dangerous, but Vermeer scrambled and dived again,

this time holding the ball.

”The first half was an investment in the second half,” Van

Gaal said, as his team tried to wear down the well-organized

Estonian defense. But once the first goal went in, Estonia’s

defense became less tight, and Van Gaal said it was relatively easy

for the Dutch to add to the scoreline.

Estonia had a chance to get back in the game on 78 minutes when

Martin Vunk broke free to challenge Vermeer one on one, but he

chipped his shot over the top.

Summing up the Dutch qualifying campaign to date, Van Gaal said:

”We’re in good shape.”