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Kazakhstan 1 Netherlands 2: Wijnaldum and Sneijder keep Dutch Euro 2016 hopes alive

Netherlands kept their hopes of reaching Euro 2016 alive after goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and Wesley Sneijder gave them a 2-1 win in Kazakhstan.

Oranje were in desperate need of three points to maintain their quest for a play-off spot in Group A and were rarely threatened in a professional display.

Impressive debutant Anwar El Ghazi set up Wijnaldum for the opener after 33 minutes and Sneijder added a wonderfully-worked second to hand some much-needed cheer to coach Danny Blind. The hosts scored with virtually the last kick of the match through Islambek Kuat but it mattered little.

It was also a night of celebration for Robin van Persie who was introduced late on to win his 100th cap for his country.

El Ghazi threatened first for the Dutch after seven minutes, cutting inside from the right before unleashing a left-footed shot that failed to trouble Kazakhstan goalkeeper Stas Pokatilov.

The Ajax winger got another chance shortly after following a sublime cross from Memphis Depay, but aimed his header from five yards out wide of the target.

Wijnaldum came close to breaking the deadlock in the 27th minute after a fine cross from El Ghazi but the Newcastle man’s header went over the crossbar.

Depay should have opened the scoring just minutes later following a sublime through ball from Daley Blind, but the winger shot wide after ignoring the unmarked Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to his right.

Danny Blind’s men did take the lead shortly after the half-hour mark, though. El Ghazi set up Wijnaldum with a clever lay-off and the midfielder found the net with a low left-footed shot.

El Ghazi should have capped a fine first Netherlands outing with a goal in the dying seconds of the opening period after another superb cross from Depay, but his timing let him down as he volleyed it wide for a goal-kick.

Netherlands made a superb start to the second half and doubled their lead in the 50th minute. Huntelaar set up Sneijder after a fine team move and the Galatasaray star hammered home from a narrow angle.

El Ghazi nearly made it three after some good work from Virgil van Dijk minutes later, but his attempt was cleared off the line.

Wijnaldum got the chance to double his tally midway through the second half but blasted his shot from a narrow angle over the crossbar.

Timur Dosmagambetov shot wide from inside the area in the 67th minute as Kazakhstan finally threatened. Yuri Logvinenko then nodded wide of a gaping goal shortly afterwards.

They did halve the deficit deep into injury time as Kuat turned home Sergei Khizhnichenko’s header back across the face of goal but there was no time for an equaliser.

Sat 10 Oct, 2015
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