Senegal 0-2 Netherlands: Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaassen seal late winning World Cup return for Oranje

Late finish: Cody Gakpo celebrates his 84th-minute header that set the Netherlands up for a hard-earned victory  (REUTERS)
Late finish: Cody Gakpo celebrates his 84th-minute header that set the Netherlands up for a hard-earned victory (REUTERS)

Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaassen popped up with late goals to seal a winning World Cup return for the Netherlands and settle an otherwise tame Group A affair against Senegal in Al Thumama.

PSV Eindhoven star Gakpo pipped Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to Frenkie de Jong’s flighted cross and glanced home a header with just six minutes remaining to continue his upward trajectory and underline an impressive debut on football’s grandest stage.

African champions Senegal gave a spirited performance but lacked any cutting edge without injured talisman Sadio Mane, conceding a decisive second goal deep into second-half stoppage time as Ajax midfielder Klaassen fired in the rebound after the disappointing Mendy had initially parried substitute Memphis Depay’s effort into his path.

It was a very pleasing finish to a previously pedestrian World Cup return for Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands, playing their first match in the tournament since beating hosts Brazil in the third place play-off back in 2014, having failed to qualify for the 2018 edition in Russia.

They join Ecuador at the top of Group A, with the two sides set to meet in a key clash in Doha on Friday. La Tri opened the competition with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Qatar in Sunday’s curtain-raiser, with the hosts next up in a must-win game for Senegal back at this stadium.