World Cup qualifying: Netherlands 3 Estonia 0
By Football News
The Netherlands extended their 100 percent record in 2014 World Cup qualifying on Friday, beating Estonia 3-0 in Amsterdam.
Hamburg playmaker Rafael van der Vaart opened the scoring for the hosts two minutes into the second half at the Amsterdam ArenA, with Manchester United's Robin van Persie adding a second on 72 minutes.
Substitute Ruben Schaken bagged a third goal with six minutes to go.
The routine victory made it five wins from five matches played for the Netherlands, who top Group D with 15 points.
They are five points ahead of second-placed Hungary and third-placed Romania, who are level on 10 points following their 2-2 draw on Friday.
Hosts the Netherlands started the match with attacking intentions, yet struggled to create any chances of note early in the game as Estonia defended well. Wesley Sneijder tried his luck from long range twice, but his first attempt went over the crossbar, while his second shot lacked power.
The Netherlands first looked dangerous around the half-hour mark when Daley Blind found Van Persie with a fine cross from the left. The striker then set up Sneijder, who fired wide from inside the area.
An Arjen Robben free-kick shortly after almost led to the opener, but Estonia goalkeeper Sergei Pareiko was alert and kept the ball out. Bayern man Robben again threatened minutes later when he danced past two opponents, only to aim just wide from a narrow angle.
Van Persie had by then already seen a goal disallowed for offside, while Robben saw his cheeky lob cancelled out for the same reason.
Estonia were initially happy to sit back and defend, yet they came close to grabbing the lead in the closing minutes of the first half.
Sander Puri cut inside from the right before setting up Konstantin Vassiljev in the centre of the pitch. The midfielder blasted a powerful shot toward the Dutch goal, which was only just parried by Kenneth Vermeer, who also kept out the rebound.
The Dutch started the second half superbly and needed only two minutes to break the deadlock.
Daryl Janmaat charged forward down the right and reached substitute Van der Vaart with a low pass inside the area. The Hamburg man controlled the ball with his back to goal and turned before beating Pareiko with a low shot.
Van Persie could have doubled the home side's lead only moments later after a superb cross from Van der Vaart, but his header lacked both power and accuracy.
The Manchester United striker again failed to find the net at the hour mark, when his right-footed shot from close range went over the cross-bar after some good work from Janmaat.
Nevertheless, the prolific forward got his goal at last in the 72nd minute.
Once again Janmaat sent in a dangerous cross from the right, and the unmarked Van Persie volleyed home from five yards out.
Estonia should have pulled one back 10 minutes before the final whistle when Martin Vunk was clean through on goal after a superb pass from Vassiljev. However, the Sillamae Kalev midfielder found himself under the pressure and blasted his shot over.
The Netherlands had a third in the closing stages when Van Persie's cross fell to Schaken at the far post, and the Feyenoord winger had no trouble finding the net from a narrow angle.
The Netherlands' next match is at home against Romania on Tuesday.
Estonia meanwhile sit fifth in Group D with just three points from five games. They take on bottom side Andorra on March 26.