Netherlands beats Estonia 3-0 in WCup qualifier


AMSTERDAM (AP) -The Netherlands made it five wins out of five World Cup qualifiers on Friday after goals from Rafael van der Vaart and Robin van Persie helped secure a comfortable 3-0 victory over Estonia.

Substitute Van der Vaart opened the scoring with the Netherlands' first move of the second half, controlling a pass from Daryl Janmaat before lashing a shot into the bottom right-hand corner from the edge of the box.

Van Persie added a second goal after 72 minutes, firing home from close range after another pass by Janmaat, before Ruben Schaken scored the third in the 83rd.

The Netherlands remains top of Group D, with a perfect record of 15 points from five games, five points ahead of Hungary and Romania. The last time the Dutch lost a World Cup qualifier was in 2001.

Van der Vaart came on for Wesley Sneijder after 36 minutes when his teammate left the field with groin pain. The two are old friends from their Ajax days but are now vying for the playmaker spot. Coach Louis van Gaal said it was unlikely that Sneijder will play Tuesday against Romania.

For his part, Van der Vaart was just pleased to have broken the deadlock.

"It was a sharp pass, and then you have a little luck that you're able to turn with it," he said. "There wasn't much time."

Estonia had two chances in the last moments of the first half that might have changed the course of the game. Midfielder Konstantin Vassiljev took a long range shot that Dutch keeper Kenneth Vermeer parried - but only to Vassiljev's feet. His second effort was more dangerous, but Vermeer scrambled and dived again, this time holding the ball.

"The first half was an investment in the second half," Van Gaal said, as his team tried to wear down the well-organized Estonian defense. But once the first goal went in, Estonia's defense became less tight, and Van Gaal said it was relatively easy for the Dutch to add to the scoreline.

Estonia had a chance to get back in the game on 78 minutes when Martin Vunk broke free to challenge Vermeer one on one, but he chipped his shot over the top.

Summing up the Dutch qualifying campaign to date, Van Gaal said: "We're in good shape."

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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