Friday, October 13, 2017

On Tuesday, Dutch football winger and captain Arjen Robben announced retirement from international play after Netherlands failed to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Russia. Oranje defeated Sweden 2–1 at home, but failed to qualify for a second consecutive major tournament, after last year’s UEFA Euro tournament.

Robben, playing his 96th international match on Tuesday, made his international debut in April 2003. Netherlands played Sweden at the Amsterdam ArenA in the Dutch capital, and were awarded a penalty kick in the sixteenth minute after a handball from Swedish defender Victor Lindelöf in the penalty area. Robben scored from the spot, netting his 36th international goal from a Panenka kick. In the 40th minute, Robben scored his second of the night, from outside the box. The scoreline remained 2–0 at the end of full time.

Netherlands dominated in ball possession having 69%. The win gave the Oranjes three points, tying with Sweden with nineteen points from all the group stage matches. However, Sweden finished second in the Group A table above Netherlands, leading in goals scored. In order to play the play-offs for the World Cup, Netherlands needed to defeat Sweden by a seven-goal margin.

Robben’s second goal brings his tally of international goals to 37, and is fourth in the list of top scorers for Netherlands, tied with Denis Bergkamp. Robben has featured in the FIFA World Cup tournaments of 2006, 2010 and 2014. He has won a silver medal at the 2010 World Cup, losing to Spain in extra time, and a bronze medal finishing third in 2014’s World Cup in Brazil.After the match, Robben said, “I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. I’ve thought about stopping, but I’ve continued. I’m 33 years old, I’m playing in a top club in Europe, so you have to make choices. I’m going to concentrate completely on my club now. This is a good time to leave it to someone else.” ((nl))Dutch language: ?Ik heb hier lang over nagedacht. Een hele tijd terug heb ik al overwogen te stoppen, maar toen ben ik toch doorgegaan. Ik ben nu 33 jaar, ik speel bij een topclub in Europa, dan moet je keuzes maken. Ik ga me nu vol concentreren op mijn club. Dit is een goed moment om het stokje over te geven.

His Bayern Munich teammate Robert Lewandowski and Poland qualified for the World Cup on Sunday. Lewandowski scored a goal against Montenegro in Warsaw, which was his sixteenth in the qualification stage becoming the first European player to net sixteen in one FIFA World Cup qualifying tournament. On the same day, Egypt defeated Congo 2–1 with Mohamed Salah scoring both goals including the match winning last minute penalty kick for Egypt. Egypt previously featured in the World Cup 28 years ago in 1990, which was their second ever World Cup tournament.

On Monday, Iceland secured a place for their maiden World Cup. Iceland became the smallest nation to to qualify for the FIFA tournament, in country population. France defeated Belarus 2–1 at home, and Portugal defeated Switzerland two goals to none, qualifying for the World Cup as well.

October 10, 2017 20:45 (UTC+2)
Netherlands 2–0 Sweden Amsterdam ArenA Referee: Sergei Karasev
Arjen Robben 16′ (pen.)Arjen Robben 40’Daley Blind 44’Vincent Janssen 46’Bas Dost 46’Kenny Tete 71’Daryl Janmaat 71’Georginio Wijnaldum 71’Davy Klaassen 71′ 2–0 (HT) 55′ Mikael Lustig 68′ Viktor Claesson 68′ Gustav Svensson 76′ Ola Toivonen 76′ Isaac Kiese Thelin 82′ Seb Larsson 82′ Martin Olsson