Memphis Depay scored twice to guide the Netherlands to a first win following the return of coach Louis van Gaal with an emphatic 4-0 victory over Montenegro in their World Cup Group G qualifier in Eindhoven on Saturday.
Depay slotted a first-half penalty and added a second goal after the break to take his recent tally to nine in as many games for the Dutch, who also scored through Georginio Wijnaldum and a first international strike for Cody Gakpo.
They are second in Group G midway through qualification with 10 points from five games, one point behind leader Turkey and on the same number as third-placed Norway. Only the top team qualifies automatically for the finals in Qatar next year.
The Netherlands hosts Turkey in Amsterdam in a potentially key game on Tuesday, while Norway is at home to minnow Gibraltar.
It took almost 20 minutes for the first effort on target as Depay stung the palms of Montenegro goalkeeper Matija Sarkic from the edge of the box. Davy Klaassen was then denied his second goal in as many games when his excellent header crashed back off the crossbar.
Depay’s clever turn in the box 10 minutes before halftime drew a foul from Dusan Lagator, and the Dutch forward stepped up to convert a thunderous spot-kick into the top corner for a 1-0 lead at the break.
Some sloppy play from the home side gave Montenegro a rare opening at the start of the second half, but Milutin Osmajic’s shot was tame and easy for Dutch goalkeeper Justin Bijlow.
An even better chance followed when debutant left-back Tyrell Malacia put his side in danger with a terrible back-pass that allowed Montenegro striker Stefan Mugosa to bear down on goal. But his shot was high and wide with just the keeper to beat.
Those were warnings for the home side, but Depay settled the contest just past the hour mark with his second, rifling the ball into the net at the near post.
Mugosa missed another excellent chance from a similarly poor back-pass. This time Stefan de Vrij was the culprit before Wijnaldum was brilliantly teed up by Steven Berghuis, for the home side’s third goal.
Netherlands’ fourth was a special moment for striker Gakpo, who curled an excellent shot from the edge of the box into the net for his first international goal at a stadium where he grew up watching home side PSV Eindhoven.
Group D: Finland 1, Kazakhstan 0
Group A: Ireland 1, Azerbaijan 1
Group G: Latvia 0, Norway 2
Group A: Serbia 4, Luxembourg 1
Group H: Cyprus 0, Russia 2
Group H: Slovenia 1, Malta 0
Group F: Faroe Islands 0, Denmark 1
Group G: Gibraltar 0, Turkey 3
Group F: Israel 5, Austria 2
Group F: Scotland 1, Moldova 0