Depay extends fine form as Netherlands crush Gibraltar: World Cup qualifying round-up

Croatia stumble in home draw with Slovakia, while Wales collect crucial win over Estonia

Memphis Depay extended his fine international form by scoring twice in a 6-0 thrashing of Gibraltar as the Netherlands closed in on automatic World Cup qualification.

Depay scored twice and could have had a first-half hat-trick but missed his first penalty. There was no denying him a second time from the spot when he converted moments before the break. The Barcelona forward now has nine goals in World Cup qualifying - more than any other player from a European team.

Virgil van Dijk opened the scoring with a header from a Depay corner after nine minutes and there were also second half goals for Denzil Dumfries, Arnaut Danjuma and Donyell Malen.

The result left the Dutch two points ahead of Norway in the Group G standings with two matches left to play. The Netherlands compete their qualifiers next month away against Montenegro and home to Norway.

It was a fourth win in a row for veteran coach Louis van Gaal, who was brought back to help ensure World Cup qualification after Frank de Boer resigned following the team's Euro 2020 failure.

Norway kept pace with the Netherlands after beating Montenegro 2-0 thanks to a Mohamed Elyounoussi double as the Scandinavian nation kept alive their hopes of reaching a World Cup for the first time since 1998.

Norway took the lead in the 29th minute as a short corner found its way to Holmgren Pedersen and his cross was headed back across goal by Stefan Strandberg to Elyounoussi who stooped to head into the net.

Norway took a risk by playing with a high backline and they were almost punished when Stevan Jovetic found Adam Marusic with a sublime ball in behind, but the striker's first touch was too heavy and the ball ended up going wide as Norway had to withstand massive pressure for the rest of the game.

Montenegro had Marko Vesovic sent off in second-half stoppage time for two yellow cards in quick succession before Elyounoussi struck a beautiful curling drive to seal the three points for Norway.

Croatia stumble against Slovakia

Over in Group H, Croatia dented their hopes of qualifying automatically after a 2-2 home draw with Slovakia left them trailing Russia by two points in a two-team race for top spot.

The Russians, who have 19 points from eight games, beat Slovenia 2-1 away to leapfrog Croatia, who came from behind twice against the Slovakians and had a late goal scrapped after a VAR check.

Both Russia and 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia are assured of at least a play-off berth as third-placed Slovakia are on 10 points and have no chance of breaking into the top two.

Winger Ivan Schranz headed the Slovakians into a 20th-minute lead before Andrej Kramaric glanced in the equaliser five minutes later and the visitors struck again on the stroke of halftime through Lukas Haraslin.

Croatia captain Luka Modric levelled with a 71st-minute free kick before substitute Nikola Vlasic was denied a winner in the 83rd as his close-range effort was ruled out for an infringement.

Wales in control of play-off destiny

Wales, meanwhile, kept their World Cup play-off destiny in their own hands after a 1-0 win in Estonia.

With Group E rivals Czech Republic also winning on Monday night, when they beat bottom side Belarus 2-0, Wales needed to collect three points to stay level and Kieffer Moore's early strike was enough to earn a vital victory.

Wales started well and raced into a 12th minute lead, with Moore prodding home following a goalmouth scramble from a corner.

As Wales tired it became a matter of holding on rather than looking for a second, with the hosts almost levelling through substitute Vlasiy Sinyavskiy, who was denied by a brilliant save from goalkeeper Danny Ward.

Wales move onto 11 points in the group but stay third, level with Czech Republic in second, although Wales have a game in hand on the Czechs.

Runaway group leaders Belgium, who are five points clear with two games to play, are all but assured of automatic qualification.

Updated: October 12th 2021, 5:00 AM
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