Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk will finally get to feature at a major international tournament for the first time in his career after the Netherlands booked their place at next year’s World Cup on Tuesday evening. Louis van Gaal’s side registered a 2-0 win over Norway in their final qualifying match to finish top of Group G and confirm their participation at the next edition of football’s most prestigious tournament.
The Netherlands missed out on the last World Cup in 2018 but will be back with a vengeance next year following Tuesday’s result.
They had been eight minutes from sealing qualification on Saturday before shipping two late goals to draw with Montenegro away from home.
However, the Oranje swiftly bounced back with a last-gasp flurry to see off the challenge of Norway in Amsterdam three days later.
The visitors held their own for the vast majority of proceedings but were eventually undone by Steven Bergwijn’s opener with six minutes remaining.
Memphis Depay added an insurance goal in stoppage time to rubber-stamp the win for the Netherlands and finish their World Cup qualifying campaign in style.
Van Dijk played the entire 90 minutes to help his side register a welcome clean sheet and was visibly overjoyed after the final whistle.
The 30-year-old missed his national team’s Euro 2020 campaign with a long-term knee injury but will be poised to feature at next year’s World Cup if he can stay fit over the next 12 months.
He was spotted looking up at the sky with his arms spread wide as he celebrated the result at full-time in an emotional display of relief.
Van Dijk went on to admit that he was extremely proud to have reached the World Cup with the Netherlands, who will be looking to improve on their early Euro 2020 exit in Qatar next year.
“We have set things straight and show that we can do better,” the Liverpool defender told reporters after Tuesday’s match.
“It was about the result and that we have succeeded in our aim makes me extremely proud.
“We have clearly embraced the tension which we have caused ourselves. As a footballer, you just want to play such matches with so much pressure.
“I also know what went wrong on Saturday [against Montenegro]. Fortunately, it all went a bit better against Norway.