The Netherlands effectively ended Turkey's World Cup bid on Tuesday, pulling out a 2-0 win to extend their already gaudy lead and further solidify their status as one of Europe's best heading into Brazil.
With the win, the Dutch improve to 28 points to close out UEFA World Cup qualifying in Group C, as Turkey remains at 16 points and falls out of the running, having needed a win or help from Romania to stay alive in the playoff spot.
Per ESPNFC, Romania's 2-0 win over Estonia secured Turkey's fate:
FT: Romania beat Estonia 2-0 and qualify for the play-offs at the expense of Turkey and Hungary,— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 15, 2013
It took little time for the Netherlands to get on top in the early goings, but a bit of good fortune played its part.
Lining up in the eighth minute for about a 35-yard free kick near the right out-of-bounds line, Arjen Robben struck a sweeping shot that landed right between the streaking players and Turkish goalkeeper Volkan Demirel. Lost in the chaos, the ball didn't touch a single player before slipping past the keeper and into the goal.
101 Great Goals tweeted the highlight:
GOAL!!!!!! Free-kick misses everyone! Arjen Robben opens for Holland v Turkey http://t.co/rVF4BsnQGh— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) October 15, 2013
Demirel made some key saves to keep the deficit close before half, but Holland quickly distanced themselves on the scoreboard to open the second half.
In the 47th minute, Netherlands midfielder Dirk Kuyt was on the receiving end of a quick passing sequence at the top of the box, and slipped it past a few defenders onto the able foot of Wesley Sneijder.
A few steps inside the box, and he put away the dagger, as LiveSoccerTV.com shows:
Sneijder, of course, plays his club ball in Turkey for Galatasaray, which sparked this sarcastic tweet from Daily Mirror's Ed Malyon:
Wesley Sneijder is going to be phenomenally popular on his return to Turkey after that goal.— Ed Malyon (@eaamalyon) October 15, 2013
But despite how Turkey fans might feel toward Sneijder from the goal, ESPN's Max Bretos noticed how he refused to celebrate the decisive score:
Wesley Sneijder who plays in Turkey, does not celebrate his goal for Holland in Istanbul. Equal parts classy and smart.— Max Bretos (@mbretosESPN) October 15, 2013
Turkey possessed the ball much more throughout the final 45 minutes, at least enough to sway the time of possession back into their favor—51 to 49. They also ended up with more shots, 15 to 14.
But it wasn't nearly enough to put together a decent scoring chance against a Holland squad that failed to lose throughout the 10-match group qualifying stage. Down the stretch, there was little doubt that the Dutch would hold onto their lead.
Arjen Robben, Netherlands: B+
Robben was all over the place in this match, getting the ball onto his swift feet at ease in scoring situations. But he was drawn offside twice, and had a couple of instances where he passed to an offside attacker.
A lot of his eighth-minute goal can be attributed to good luck, but he did put the ball into the right spot, and had one of Holland's attackers been in the right place, it would've been a goal regardless.
Wesley Sneijder, Netherlands: A-
Other than instantly becoming a polarizing figure among Turkish football fans, Sneijder displayed creativity all across the pitch throughout this one.
It wasn't very often that the 29-year-old tried to finish a scoring opportunity, but he made the most of it when he decided to, by seemingly putting the match away in the 47th minute.
|Bruno Martins Indi||B+|
|Robin Van Persie||B|
|Jeffrey Bruma (sub.)||B|
|Dirk Kuyt (sub.)||B+|
|Memphis Depay (sub.)||B-|
Volkan Demirel, Turkey: B-
It's unfortunate that Turkey's big mishap of the contest fell on the shoulders of Demirel, who played a brilliant match otherwise for his national team.
Robben's eighth-minute free kick bounced just past him as he anticipated an attacking player to make a play on the ball. Despite that glaring mistake and a Sneijder goal he couldn't do anything about, he stood tall to Holland's 14 shots.
|Hasan Ali Kaldirim||C+|
|Arda Turan||C +|
|Olcay Sahan (sub.)||B|
|Cenk Tosun (sub.)||B|
Coming up just short of keeping their World Cup bid alive, Turkey will now try to pick up the pieces, which is never easy when your primary goal of three years is squashed at the last moment.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands just have to keep playing exactly how they currently are. Their next opportunity to do so will be in an international friendly against Japan in November.