France's Paul Pogba waves to supporters as he leaves the pitch with France's Anthony Martial at the end of the World Cup Group A qualifying soccer match in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Oct 10, 2016. [Photo/IC]
THE HAGUE -- France booked a 1-0 victory against the Netherlands in 2018 World Cup qualification Group A on Monday in Amsterdam.
The visitors took control from the start in the Amsterdam Arena, passing the ball smoothly and giving the home-team no chance. Striker Kevin Gameiro had the first opportunity, but his shot was stopped by Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
After fifteen minutes the Dutch regained some ground with substitute Memphis Depay coming in for injured Quincy Promes, but they remained uncomfortable in possession. When Jeffrey Bruma lost the ball France took over and Paul Pogba launched a long-distance shot, which surprised Stekelenburg. The goalkeeper touched the ball, but could not prevent the French opening goal.
Five minutes from half-time the Dutch called for a penalty, when a shot by striker Vincent Janssen was touched with the arm by the sliding defender Laurent Koscielny. Referee Damir Skomina neglected the Dutch call.
The Netherlands started the second half with a chance for Janssen, but the Tottenham Hotspur striker hit the wrong side of the net. Ten minutes later Gameiro and Antoine Griezmann missed opportunities on behalf of the side of coach Didier Deschamps. With other chances for Depay and Pogba the remainder of the match remained in balance, with France keeping the 1-0 advantage.
France's Paul Pogba in action, Oct 10, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]
In the final minutes the Dutch pushed France back with Bas Dost as an extra striker to force the equalizer, leading to a chance for Depay. The Manchester United forward was denied a goal by French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
The Dutch defeat meant an end to an unbeaten run in their last 34 World Cup qualifiers since the 1-0 defeat at Republic of Ireland on September 1, 2001. In addition, the unbeaten Dutch streak of 19 World Cup qualifying matches at home, since the 2-0 defeat against Portugal on 11 October 2000, ended.
France now lead Group A with seven points from three matches, together with Sweden, which beat Bulgaria 3-0 in Solna. The Netherlands are third with four points, followed by Belarus, which drew 1-1 against bottom side Luxembourg.
Paul Pogba of France celebrates his 0-1 goal during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying soccer match between the Netherlands and France, Oct 10, 2016. [Photo/IC]
France's Paul Pogba, center, is congratulated by teammates after scoring the opening goal, Oct 10, 2016. [Photo/IC]
France's Kevin Gameiro, right, challenges for the ball with Netherlands' Virgil van Dijk, left, and Netherlands' Rick Karsdorp during the World Cup Group A qualifying soccer match in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Oct 10, 2016. [Photo/IC]