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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dutch Treat Brings Wales of Despair

EINDHOVEN, Netherlands -- The Netherlands went on the rampage Saturday, thrashing an under-strength Wales 7-1 in a Group 7 qualifier at the Philips Stadium.


The biggest World Cup win by the Dutch for 23 years, since a Johan Cruyff-inspired side demolished Iceland 8-1 in a qualifier in 1973, was also their fifth straight win over the Welsh.


The Dutch, who beat Wales 3-1 in Cardiff last month in their group opener, maintained their 100 percent start to the group courtesy of a hat-trick from Arsenal's Dennis Bergkamp and a goal apiece from the de Boer twins, Phillip Cocu and Wim Jonk.


Wales, outclassed and run ragged, managed a single Dean Saunders strike in reply, but their evening was summed up with the customary caution for Vinnie Jones, made captain for his World Cup debut, for a clumsy first half challenge on Clarence Seedorf.


Missing five Ajax stalwarts, as well as defenders Johan de Kock and Stan Valckx and Manchester United's Jordi Cruyff, the Dutch began scrappily as they were harried and hustled by the Welsh. But after 10 minutes, the home side began slicing through the Welsh back-line with almost every attack.


Veteran keeper Neville Southall, winning his 89th cap, made a string of diving saves as an orange tide swelled. Midway through the first half, the pressure told and the tide became irresistible.


After Andy Melville had felled Bergkamp, Jonk shaped to hit a long-range free-kick, but slipped the ball to the side of the Welsh wall. Bergkamp tapped it back to Ronald de Boer whose shot was parried by Southall and Bergkamp pounced on the rebound.


Ten minutes later, Ronald de Boer tapped in a rebound from Southall.


In the next attack, PSV midfielder Jonk strode through five Welsh defenders on the edge of the box to beat Southall with an angled toe-poke.


Wales, torn apart at the back, found time to get one back with Saunders scoring to make it 3-1. But the relief was short-lived. Seconds before halftime, Frank de Boer headed home a near-post corner.


Wales began the second period digging deep, but could only hold the rampaging Dutch at bay for 20 minutes.


Bergkamp swung in a ball from the left which Cocu, with the faintest of touches, slipped past Southall and provider Bergkamp turned scorer, tapping in a Numan cross for his second of the game.


Moments later, Bergkamp bagged his hat-trick as a long-range effort took a wicked deflection off Gary Speed.


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In Group 9 Portugal boosted their chances of qualifying for the World Cup with a spirited 1-0 victory over Ukraine.


Portugal produced a fine performance against a determined Ukrainian side that had clearly come to defend after their 2-1 home win a month ago.


Portugal, desperately needing a win after a disappointing start to their campaign to qualify, finally got the goal they deserved after 58 minutes when Fernando Couto drove home from close range.


But it needed a defensive error by the resolute Ukrainians to break the deadlock.


Yuri Maksimov's diving header after a Portuguese free-kick turned the ball into the path of the Barcelona defender who fired it into the roof of the net.