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Luxembourg vs. Netherlands: Score and Reaction for World Cup 2018 Qualifying

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistNovember 13, 2016

Netherland's Memphis Depay (C) celebrates after scoring a goal during the World Cup 2018 qualifying  match between Luxembourg and Netherlands on November 13, 2016 at the Josy Barthel Stadium in Luxembourg. / AFP / JOHN THYS        (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
JOHN THYS/Getty Images

The Netherlands took a gigantic leap toward qualifying for the 2018 World Cup on Sunday after their 3-1 victory over Luxembourg was enough to see them climb to second in Group A above rivals Sweden. 

Arjen Robben netted an easy first-half opener for the visitors, and Memphis Depay came off the bench to supply a brace after Maxime Chanot struck a penalty equaliser for the home side on the stroke of half-time.

The Netherlands still have a big task ahead in attaining World Cup qualification as they sit level on points with the Swedes, while leaders France remain three points ahead of the pack and are yet to be beaten in Group A.

Memphis has hardly featured under Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho this season, but Squawka detailed a momentous night for the winger after he contributed massively to the win thanks to his 45-minute outing:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Memphis Depay has scored his first ever brace for Netherlands senior team. What a free kick! https://t.co/rklfJxJ3kb

Oranje manager Danny Blind knew a maximum-points haul was needed from this fixture after Group A rivals Sweden stole a 1-0 win in their trip to Stade Josy Barthel in October, but such a result was easier said than done.

The visiting team were looking to bounce back from a disappointing 1-0 home defeat to pool leaders France in their most recent qualifier, which left them stranded in third place after three games.

And the early omens weren't positive for the Netherlands as much of their team looked average through the opening 30 minutes, although Robben did look to be one of Blind's more promising—not to mention competent—attacking outlets.

His breakthrough finally came after Davy Klaassen's through ball down the right side of Luxembourg's box found the veteran winger, who confidently slotted home to maintain his recent spurt of scoring form, per OptaJohan:

OptaJohan @OptaJohan

5 - Arjen Robben has now scored five goals in his last four games for the Netherlands. Essential.

The Netherlands would likely have carved out a much easier path to three points had they managed to make it to the half-time interval with a clean sheet intact, except Chanot's 44th-minute intervention prevented that from happening.

Joshua Brenet was the Dutch defender responsible for giving a penalty away after tugging an opposition player inside the box, and Chanot was on hand to convert as Sky Football provided a glimpse at the incident:

Sky Sports PL @SkySportsPL

WATCH: Luxembourg shock the Netherlands as they draw level on the stroke of half time! Reaction live on SS4. https://t.co/jyshozpRNI

Memphis came on as a half-time substitute for Wesley Sneijder, while opening scorer Robben was replaced by Steven Berghuis in a decision one can only presume was enforced due to some form of injury.

And it didn't take long for Manchester United outcast Memphis to have the desired impact, linking up well with Old Trafford team-mate Daley Blind, whose inch-perfect cross from the left flank found its mark with ease.

Memphis headed home the goal that restored the Netherlands lead just before the hour mark, and Squawka illustrated just how severe his barren patch was prior to Sunday's strike:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Memphis Depay has scored his first competitive goal for Netherlands since 23rd June 2014. 874 days ago! https://t.co/n2oPlPIjra

Luxembourg boss Luc Holtz made changes in the final quarter of an hour by throwing on attackers Kevin Kerger and Vincent Thill in place of Daniel da Mota and Stefano Bensi, respectively, but the Oranje proved too stubborn to break down.

Blind made changes, too, and Middlesbrough's Marten de Roon came on for his senior international debut with minutes left on the clock, hoping to have some sort of impact in the game's final exchanges.

With a little less than five minutes remaining, Memphis landed the killer blow with a gorgeous, dipping free-kick into the bottom-left corner, proving the Netherlands have another set-piece technician among their ranks:

OptaJohan @OptaJohan

1 - Memphis Depay is the first player to score a direct free-kick goal for Oranje since Arjen Robben vs Turkey in October 2013. Specialist.

Both teams can now divert their focus away from World Cup qualification, with the Netherlands next in action against Bulgaria next March, while Luxembourg—still with just a point to their name in qualifying—play host to Les Bleus.

The Red Lions are under pressure to clinch a Group A win if they're to stand even a slim chance of snatching a place at the 2018 World Cup, while it looks like the Dutch may be vying for a second-place finish at the very best.

   

Post-Match Reaction

Depay sent his critics a message of intent with two goals on Sunday.
Depay sent his critics a message of intent with two goals on Sunday.Laurent Dubrule/Associated Press

After going without a win in their previous two outings, Sunday's win was a hugely beneficial result for those among the Netherlands' ranks who were perhaps lacking in morale due to the team's recent slump.

Not least of whom, Memphis will have undoubtedly cherished his display after coming on at half-time, and the Red Devil was succinct in summarising the performance after taking to his official Instagram account after the win:

United team-mate Blind also took to social media following the victory and celebrated a landmark achievement in his career after matching coach and father Danny in international appearances:

Daley Blind @BlindDaley

42 Caps, proud to achieve the same number as my father and happy with the 3 points! 🦁🔶 #Oranje #DutchLions https://t.co/n7TWCYysv6

De Roon also had extra reason to remember Sunday's outing as his first for the national team:

Marten de Roon @Dirono

Quite a week it was! Proud to have made my debut for the Dutch national team🔶💪🏼 #luxned #DutchLions https://t.co/imcnlJnAbY

The Netherlands will revel in their win for now, but manager Blind will hope this result can encourage some momentum for the remainder of the qualification campaign, something the Dutch are in desperate need of.

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