Football: Ake double helps Dutch overcome 10-man Gibraltar in laboured 3-0 win

Netherlands' defender Nathan Ake goes for a header on March 27, 2023. PHOTO: AFP

ROTTERDAM – Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman has said he is “shocked” that his team are lacking in many aspects and that there is still much room for improvement.

On Monday, defender Nathan Ake scored twice and Memphis Depay also got on the scoresheet as the Oranje laboured to a 3-0 home win over 10-man Gibraltar in their Euro 2024 qualifier.

The victory came after a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of France and, although they kept a clean sheet, the Dutch were also wasteful against a lowly Gibraltar side.

Speaking to Dutch broadcaster NOS, Koeman reflected on his first week back in charge, saying: “There is work to be done.

“Particularly in positional play, ball circulation, taking the right positions as a winger or back. That was not easy for me, we really need to improve on that.

“It is clear that our football has to be much better. We have to raise the level, we have to improve. I am quite shocked by moments in matches.”

On the game against Gibraltar, he added: “We haven’t scored enough goals. Right from the start, I found it imprecise, sloppy. Then you know that the game is waiting for the (first) goal. It falls, then it got better but we don’t have the form to create many more great opportunities. It was less than I had hoped.”

Depay put the hosts ahead at half-time and Ake’s double came after the break in another unconvincing Dutch performance, this time against Europe’s second-lowest ranked side.

France lead the group on six points from two games after beating Ireland 1-0 away, while second-placed Greece, who have played only once, and the Netherlands have three points.

The Dutch had 48 efforts on goal against Gibraltar but only 11 on target, showing little of the sharpness Koeman had been looking for in a reaction to their 4-0 loss in Paris last Friday.

“We were sloppy in possession. It was a very difficult evening,” said Dutch skipper Virgil van Dijk.

“Today was a game in which it is hard to ever do well.

“You have to win 10-0, then you have done well.

“We had to take the initiative, show intensity and make goals – as many as possible. Unfortunately, that did not work out.

“We’d hoped to try to destroy them but scored three goals when we actually should have scored a lot more.

“That is something we have to improve for the next period.”

The Netherlands were handed a one-man advantage when Liam Walker was sent off for a studs-up tackle on debutant Mats Wieffer.

But Gibraltar, who had two players aged over 40 in their starting line-up, remained resilient and conceded their third goal only in the 82nd minute.

While Koeman was unhappy with his players’ performance on the pitch, he also admitted that it had been a tough week due to a virus in the squad and a couple of injuries.

“It has been constantly restless,” he said.

“Even during the match, you can’t always make substitutions because the boys have been ill. I hope I don’t have to experience that again.” REUTERS

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