Louis van Gaal`s Netherlands squeezed past Turkey at the Amsterdam ArenA, securing a 2-0 win in their opening World Cup 2014 qualifier.
The game represented the new Dutch boss` first victory in an official match and while the scoreline looks good, the performance may suggest otherwise.
Turkey began at pace, attacking Netherlands and pressing them when not in possession. Their intent was clear right from the first corner, won in the first minute off the body of Kevin Strootman, as the visitors went close with a header.
Oranje took time to settle, but after 10 minutes started to impose themselves on the game. Crosses were fizzed in and corners were won, but the Turkish defence didn`t seem too troubled and mopped them up with ease.
The first scare of the night came for Tim Krul and and Martins Indi, as some miscommunication nearly led to an own goal, and just as the Turks seemed to be reasserting their control, Netherlands struck to take the lead.
Robin van Persie continued his new-found trend of scoring with his head by nodding in from Inter star Wesley Sneijder`s corner.
The 19th minute goal gave van Gaal`s men temporary hope, but it was Abdullah Avci`s side who came away from the restart stronger.
Sercan Yildrim and Arda Turan both went desperately close for The Crescent-Stars, while Luciano Narsingh should have done better when he found himself in a great position.
As the first half wore on, it became clear the Netherlands midfield weren`t coping with the physicality of the game. Umut hit the bar with a header just before half-time, leaving Oranje counting their blessings at the interval.
Van Gaal introduced Richardo van Rhijn at half-time and replaced Jordy Clasie with Leroy Fer shortly after.
The changes allowed the Dutch to grab a hold of the game more efficiently and they proceeded to dominate the opening 10 minutes of the second-half.
Turkey, now resorting to the counter-attack in the face of a much-improved Oranje, went close to an equaliser when Hamit Altintop forced Tim Krul into a first-class save with a long-range effort.
On 60 minutes, there were chances at both ends. Van Persie got in the way of Arjen Robben`s chipped effort for the hosts, while Sercan should have scored after beating van Rhijn to a header at the far post.
Sneijder and Robben began to combine well down the left side and produced a number of chances for their side to extend their lead, but the Turkish defence stood up to the challenge.
With the Dutch in control, van Gaal`s men actively began to protect their lead rather than go all out for a second, while Turkey struggled to grab hold of the game despite the introduction of new Liverpool signing Nuri Sahin.
Ron Vlaar came on late for Jonny Heitinga to add solidity to the back line, and Narsingh scored late on with a chipped finish as Turkey piled forward in search of an equaliser.
The Dutch have opened their campaign with a much-needed confidence-boosting win after a dour Euro 2012 campaign, while Turkey will feel hard done by after an impressive showing.
First place in this group is far from assured on this showing for Oranje, who failed to control the game as they may have hoped before the encounter.
First Published: Saturday, September 08, 2012, 12:43