AMSTERDAM (AP) — The Netherlands got its World Cup qualification back on track Saturday by beating Latvia 2-0, while Turkey continued its strong start in Group G with a 3-0 victory over Norway to go top on goal difference.
Steven Berghuis curled in a left-footed shot in the 32nd minute and Luuk de Jong headed home a corner in the 69th as the Netherlands rebounded from a 4-2 midweek defeat in Turkey.
It could have been much more but for a combination of bad luck — two headers against the bar by De Jong and Davy Klaassen — and committed Latvian defending.
“It’s unbelievable it was 1-0 after the first half,” Berghuis said.
In a match played in the Spanish city of Malaga, Ozan Tufan scored a goal in each half and Caglar Soyuncu headed his country’s second goal as Turkey easily beat Norway.
Ahead of its game, the Netherlands team wore T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Football supports change,” in an apparent statement about human rights in World Cup host Qatar.
Dutch authorities allowed 5,000 fans to attend the match under strict conditions, divided into different bubbles as a test to evaluate possible ways of reopening large-scale public events amid the coronavirus pandemic.
They saw Stéphanie Frappart make history by becoming the first woman to referee a men’s World Cup qualifier.
Netherlands coach Frank de Boer made three changes to the starting lineup that slumped to defeat in the opening match against Turkey on Wednesday. He brought in striker De Jong, Ajax midfielder Klaassen and PSV wing back Denzel Dumfries in an attempt to add an attacking edge lacking in Istanbul.
The three almost combined for a goal in just the sixth minute. Dumfries crossed from the left, De Jong headed back across goal and Igors Tarasovs’s timely intervention just stopped Klaassen from bundling the ball into the net.
After two close misses, the Netherlands finally took the lead in the 32nd minute when Berghuis curled a shot past Roberts Ozols after a powerful run by Frenkie de Jong. Luuk de Jong repaid De Boer’s faith in him by heading in Memphis Depay’s corner to complete the scoring.
It was Berghuis’ first goal for the Netherlands in his 23rd international.
“I’m very happy with it and proud,” he said. “It’s what you work hard for. I want to be important for Oranje.”
Earlier Saturday, Montenegro beat Gibraltar 4-1 in Podgorica to make it two wins from two matches and take second place in the group.
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