Netherlands laboured to a 3-1 win in Belarus on Saturday in a result which all but ends their chances of finishing second and reaching the World Cup playoffs.

Sweden’s 8-0 win over Luxembourg earlier on Saturday left Netherlands needing to put at least seven or eight past Belarus if they were to keep their slim chances of finishing second alive.

A fast start was needed, but instead, Netherlands were sluggish in the opening twenty minutes, creating absolutely nothing. Vincent Janssen sparked Oranje into some life with a strike that came crashing down off the crossbar. Minutes later, Arjen Robben cut back for Davy Propper to net the opening goal.

Netherlands could have been further ahead at the break but several chances were wasted, with Ryan Babel, in particular, guilty of messing up in front of the Belarus goal.

No changes were made at half time but Netherlands started the second half well with Janssen testing the Belarus goalkeeper with a shot on the turn while the striker also headed just wide.

Belarus weathered the short storm at the start of the second half and began to threaten themselves. Eventually, left-back Maksim Volodko got in behind the Netherlands defence and squeezed a shot past Cillessen for the equaliser.

Bas Dost and Memphis Depay were thrown on shortly after the equaliser, but neither made an immediate impact as Netherlands struggled to string passes together, let alone regain the lead. It seemed that Netherlands were heading for a draw and an exit before Tuesday’s final encounter, but Dost then won a penalty, which Arjen Robben netted to make it 2-1.

Belarus missed three great chances to equalise before Memphis sealed a 3-1 win with a curled free kick in injury time.

Netherlands now need to beat Sweden by seven goals on Tuesday to take second place in the group. It appears that Netherlands can forget about reaching Russia.




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