Netherlands keep Euro hopes alives; Turkey edge Kazakhstan
RIGA, Latvia --
PSV Eindhoven teammates Georginio Wijnaldum and Luciano Narsingh scored second-half goals Friday as the Netherlands beat Latvia 2-0 in Riga to move closer to second place in its European Championship qualifying group.
Briefly languishing in fourth place before kick off after Turkey won 1-0 in Kazakhstan, the Netherlands regained third with its first away win since Guus Hiddink started his second stint in charge of the national team after it finished third in last year's World Cup.
''We had to win, and we did,'' said midfielder Wesley Sneijder. Wijnaldum poked the ball just inside the post in the 67th minute for his third international goal, just four minutes after coming on for out of form striker Robin van Persie.
''My quality is finding good positions in front of goal and scoring,'' said Wijnaldum. ''It's always a golden substitution if the person who comes on scores.'' Four minutes later Narsingh, largely ineffective up until then, also scored his third for the Netherlands when he broke behind the defense and calmly shot past Andris Vanins.
In Reykjavik, Iceland came from a goal down to beat the Czech Republic 2-1 and take over the lead in Group A. The Netherlands is now three points behind the Czechs. Borek Dockal opened the scoring for the Czechs before Aron Gunnarsson and Kolbeinn Sightorsson gave Iceland the win. Arda Turan scored a late winner for Turkey in Almaty.
Without star winger Arjen Robben, the Dutch attack struggled to create clear-cut chances in the first half and when it did manage a shot, Latvia goalkeeper Vanins was almost always well positioned to save. Sneijder was the only person to beat the FC Sion keeper before the break, but his curling, dipping shot hit the post in the 20th minute. He beat Vanins again with a delicate chip in the 81st, but the crossbar came to the goalkeeper's rescue.
Latvia came close to making the Dutch rue their missed chances when he Valerijs Sabala hit a shot with the outside of his right foot that just failed to curl into the far corner of Jasper Cillessen's goal in the last minute before the break. Latvia appealed for a penalty in the 13th minute when Deniss Rakels fell in a duel with Gregory van der Wiel, but instead the Latvian winger was booked for diving.
Victory was enough for Holland to regain third place in Group A, after Turkey had temporarily edged above the Dutch courtesy of a shaky 1-0 victory in Kazakhstan.
Iceland moved top of Group A with a 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic, in a result that congested the top of the standings and could potentially play into Holland's hands. Holland now trail second-placed Czech Republic by three points and group leaders Iceland by five.
Information from FOXSoccer.com's wire services contributed to this report.