Propper boosts Dutch dreams

PARIS • Davy Propper was on target twice as the Netherlands boosted their hopes of making it to next year's World Cup with a 3-1 win over Bulgaria in Amsterdam on Sunday.

Propper's goals came either side of an Arjen Robben effort and Dick Advocaat's side moved back above the Bulgarians into third place in European qualifying Group A. They are four points behind France, who were held to a goalless draw with Luxembourg at home, and three points behind Sweden, 4-0 winners away in Belarus.

But with Sweden to visit Amsterdam in the last round of matches next month, the three-time World Cup runners-up still stand a chance of making it to Russia after missing out on Euro 2016.

Nevertheless, the best they can hope for is second place and a play-off spot, with France on course to top the group after destroying the Dutch 4-0 in Paris last Thursday.

Advocaat made three changes from that game, with Wesley Sneijder one of those to drop out as Lyon full-back Kenny Tete, Feyenoord's Tonny Vilhena and Brighton's Propper came in.

Three days after thrashing the Netherlands in which they showcased their frightening array of attacking talent, France proved themselves unable to break down Luxembourg, the nation lying 136th in the world rankings.

Didier Deschamps' side had more than 70 per cent of possession and over 30 attempts on goal in Toulouse but failed to find a way through.

It was also the first time France have failed to win against Luxembourg since 1914.

"Thursday's result was important but so was getting three points today, so we'll need to fight to the end," France coach Deschamps said.

"The last two games will be decisive. We are in a better situation than we were in June, although we are disappointed tonight."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2017, with the headline 'Propper boosts Dutch dreams'. Print Edition | Subscribe