Arjen Robben netted twice in the first half to give Netherlands a 2-0 win over Sweden. A result that was not enough to keep Netherlands slim hopes of reaching the World Cup alive.

With Netherlands needing an unlikely 7-0 win to keep their World Cup hopes alive, all eyes before the game were on Arjen Robben, who is rumoured to be close to announcing his international retirement. The winger fueled the speculation by appearing to be in tears during the Netherlands national anthem.

When the game did get underway, Robben was involved early on, with two chances to open the scoring before Netherlands were awarded a penalty on 16 minutes for a handball in the box. Robben took it and dinked the spot-kick past the Swedish goalkeeper to make it 1-0 and spark some hope.

Chances then came and went for Netherlands, with Ryan Babel, Vincent Janssen and Kenny Tete all coming close to a second before Robben once again lit up the match on forty minutes. Babel raced towards the Sweden box before pulling the ball back for Robben to thunder an unstoppable strike into the net for his second of the first half. The scoreline could have been greater before the break but Janssen couldn’t quite latch onto an excellent through ball.

At the break, Advocaat decided to switch Janssen for Bas Dost, but the change didn’t have the desired effect as Netherlands failed to get off to a quick start in the second half. Sweden sat deep and soaked up the pressure from Oranje, who found Dost on several occasions but didn’t have any runners getting in behind.

The game was crying out for an extra attacker to support Dost but with twenty minutes left, Advocaat made the mind-boggling decision to bring on Davy Klaassen and Daryl Janmaat for Georginio Wijnaldum and Kenny Tete. The match then limped towards its conclusion with Dost heading a Robben free kick over the bar, before the winger came close to his hat-trick but his prodded shot was well saved.

The home crowd chanted Robben’s name a minute before the end as it became clear the 33-year-old’s first half magic would not be enough to save Oranje.

Netherlands will not be in Russia next summer as Sweden advance to the play offs. A second straight missed tournament for Oranje and the enquiry will now begin at the KNVB.




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