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Depay at the double as Dutch cruise to win over Montenegro

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Memphis Depay scored twice to guide the Netherlands to a first win following the return of coach Louis van Gaal with an empahtic 4-0 victory over Montenegro in their World Cup Group G qualifier in Eindhoven on Saturday.

Depay slotted a first-half penalty and added a second goal after the break to take his recent tally to nine in as many games for the Dutch, who also scored through Georginio Wijnaldum and a first international strike for Cody Gakpo.

They are second in Group G midway through qualification with 10 points from five games, one point behind leaders Turkey and on the same number as third-placed Norway. Only the top team qualifies automatically for the finals in Qatar next year.

Netherlands host Turkey in Amsterdam in a potentially key game on Tuesday, while Norway are at home to minnows Gibraltar.

Wind blows Faroes away with late winner for Denmark

Denmark striker Jonas Wind struck the only goal five minutes from time as the visitors struggled to a 1-0 win over a stubborn Faroe Islands in their World Cup Group F qualifier on Saturday.

Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand made nine changes from the team that beat Scotland 2-0 in midweek, giving some younger players a start in a game the Danes were expected to win comfortably but the Faroes held them scoreless through the first 45 minutes.

Wind had the ball in the net in first-half stoppage time but his effort was ruled out for offside after a VAR review.

The Faroes put on a tremendous defensive display before losing Rene Joensen to a second booking in the 84th, with Wind heading the winning goal a minute later.

The victory leaves Denmark top of the six-team group with a maximum 15 points, five ahead of second-placed Israel, while the Faroes are fifth on one point above Moldova on goal difference.

Croatia beat Slovakia with late Brozovic strike

Croatia stayed on course to reach the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after an 86th-minute goal from midfielder Marcelo Brozovic gave them a vital 1-0 win at Slovakia in their Group H qualifier on Saturday.

The result left the Croatians second in the group on 10 points from five games, behind Russia on goal difference and three ahead of third-placed Slovenia.

Earlier on Saturday, Russia won 2-0 in Cyprus while Slovenia beat Malta 1-0 at home. Fourth-placed Slovakia have six points while Malta and Cyprus have four each.

Croatia missed several key players including injured captain Luka Modric who has been sidelined with a muscle injury and his absence made their midfield look disjointed and bereft of ideas.

Yet the visitors dominated the opening 30 minutes as Mislav Orsic shaved the bar with a piledriver from 25 metres before Milan Skriniar denied Antonio Colak with a last-gasp block from close range.

Slovakia replied with Vladimir Weiss firing just wide from long range and Robert Mak was then denied by a fine save from Croatia’s stand-in goalkeeper Ivica Ivusic, who made his debut replacing the injured Dominik Livakovic.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic introduced Ivan Perisic shortly after the break but Slovakia looked more likely to grab the winner as Robert Bozenik spurned a sitter on the hour when he scuffed his shot across the face of goal.

With time running out, 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia struck out of the blue as Juraj Kucka failed to clear a cross and Brozovic rifled a sumptuous volley into the bottom corner past home keeper Marek Rodak.

Ivusic then pulled off another fine save to keep Croatia in the driving seat as the home side threw men forward in search of an equaliser.

Croatia are at home to Slovenia in their next match, Slovakia entertain Cyprus and Russia host Malta on Tuesday.

A penalty just before the end of the first half enabled Slovenia to return to winning ways, defeating Malta 1-0 in another match from Group H of the European Qualifiers leading to the 2022 FIFA World Cup at the Stadion Stožice in Ljubljana on Saturday.

Although the Maltese suffered pressure from their opponents in the early stages, they soon started to share the exchanges with their opponents but a rather dubious penalty enabled the hosts to take the lead. Although Malta failed to earn a positive result from this game, it was yet another good performance for the boys in red.

A penalty just before the end of the first half enabled Slovenia to return to winning ways, defeating Malta 1-0 in another match from Group H of the European Qualifiers leading to the 2022 FIFA World Cup at the Stadion Stožice in Ljubljana on Saturday.

Although the Maltese suffered pressure from their opponents in the early stages, they soon started to share the exchanges with their opponents but a rather dubious penalty enabled the hosts to take the lead. Although Malta failed to earn a positive result from this game, it was yet another good performance for the boys in red.

The hosts went out in search of an early goal and Bohar threatened with a shot from outside the area ending just over the bar following a erratic clearance by Triston Caruana after just four minutes.

On the 24th minute, following a clearance by Pepe, Sandi Lovric tried his luck with a conclusion from the right but the ball was deflected by Shaw, surprising goalkeeper Henry Bonello, ending in a corner.

Malta went close on the half hour when Cain attracted delivered a cross from the right but Satariano was anticipated by a defender who headed the ball into a corner. From the resulting corner by Teddy Teuma, Kurt Shaw’s header ended high.

Three minutes later, Malta threatened once again this time thanks to Joseph Mbong who concluded a solo effort from outside the area which was not held by Oblak but the Atletico Madrid goalkeeper managed to save the goal just before crossing the goal line.

Two minutes from the end of the first half, referee Andris Treimanis ordered a penalty after Enrico Pepe was adjudged to have pushed Mevlja down inside the area. From the penalty spot, Sandi Lovrić converted to put Slovenia ahead.

In the second half, the two teams shared the exchanges with shots at goal being few and far in between.

Two minutes from time, Slovenia were awarded another penalty after Cain Attard brought Miha Zajc down inside the area but Andraz Sporar’s effort from the penalty spot was neutralised by Bonello.

Reuters/Maltafootball

Photo Cody Gakpo (R) of the Netherlands celebrates with teammates after scoring the 4-0 lead during the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying group G soccer match between the Netherlands and Montenegro in Eindhoven, Netherlands, 04 September 2021. EPA-EFE/MAURICE VAN STEEN