The Netherlands responded to their thrashing in France by beating 10-man Gibraltar 3-0, as Nathan Aké scored the first brace of his entire career, finally helping to get the Oranje’s UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying campaign up and running at Feyenoord’s De Kuip.
The former Barcelona boss himself pledged before kick-off that the hosts would be looking to score “as many goals as possible” in Rotterdam, and it wasn’t all that surprising to see the Euro ’88 winners monopolise possession from the outset.
After a number of half-chances for the Dutch, the deadlock was eventually broken on 23 minutes, as Denzel Dumfries put in the best of several teasing deliveries.
Both Dayle Coleing and 40-year-old captain Roy Chipolina hesitated to clear their lines, and Memphis Depay capitalised by nodding home to palpable sighs of relief among the home supporters.
Wout Weghorst and Georginio Wijnaldum had chances to extend the lead before half-time, but Julio César Ribas would have been pleased with his side’s organisation in the face of significant pressure.
Chipolina did well to clear Weghorst’s header off the line before a slipping Aké added a deflected third late on, giving this so-called ‘contest’ the type of one-sided scoreline universally predicted before kick-off.
Tiny Gibraltar’s next exercise in futility sees them host 2022 World Cup runners up France in June, three days before travelling to Dublin.
As for the Netherlands, that month will surely bring a sterner test, as they face Croatia in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals – four years after falling at the final hurdle in the competition’s inaugural staging.