The Netherlands secured their first win in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup on Saturday by beating Latvia 2-0 in Amsterdam, but Turkey took control of Group G with an impressive victory over Norway.
Turkey, who beat the Dutch 4-2 on Thursday, made it two wins from two games as they cruised past Erling Braut Haaland’s Norway in a match played in Malaga, Spain.
Montenegro also have six points from two outings after following their success against Latvia with a 4-1 home win over Gibraltar.
Frank de Boer’s Dutchmen gave the 5,000 fans allowed to attend at the Johan Cruyff Arena something to cheer as Steven Berghuis’s 32nd-minute curling effort and Luuk de Jong’s second-half header saw off Latvia.
“We know that goal difference will be important in these qualifiers,” said De Boer, who also saw De Jong and Davy Klaassen hit the woodwork.
“We deserved to win with at least five goals. We tried everything.”
The Netherlands players followed in the footsteps of their group rivals Norway, and Germany, in protesting in support of human rights in Qatar, where the 2022 World Cup finals will be held.
The match was also the first World Cup qualifier to be refereed by a woman, as France’s Stephanie Frappart took charge.
The Netherlands failed to qualify for either Euro 2016 or the 2018 World Cup, but are among the title favourites for this year’s delayed Euro 2020.
Tufan, Soyuncu star for Turkey
Fenerbahce midfielder Ozan Tufan scored twice as Turkey beat a dangerous Norway side 3-0.
Leicester centre-back Caglar Soyuncu also enjoyed a fine performance as he netted the second goal and helped keep Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland quiet.
“Last year we’ve qualified for Euro 2020 and now we’re fighting for a spot in the World Cup,” Soyuncu told uefa.com. “We want to be there.”
Earlier in the day, Stevan Jovetic made it three goals in two matches as Montenegro saw off Gibraltar.
They sit second in what looks to be a very competitive group, behind Turkey on goal difference.
Russia, World Cup quarter-finalists on home soil three years ago, moved top of the early Group H table with a 2-1 victory over Slovenia, who had started their campaign by beating 2018 runners-up Croatia.
Artem Dzyuba’s first-half double proved enough for Russia in Sochi, despite Atalanta forward Josip Ilicic halving the deficit before half-time.
Croatia struggled to find their best form again, but Mario Pasalic’s header five minutes before the break helped Zlatko Dalic’s men edge out Cyprus 1-0 in Rijeka.
“In the second half there were some problems,” admitted Pasalic. “We slowed down the game, lost the fluency. But we won and that’s the most important thing.”
Belarus came from behind to win their first game in Group E, 4-2 against Estonia, who were also thrashed 6-2 by the Czech Republic on Wednesday.
The Czechs will be without four key Germany-based players for their match against the world number one-ranked side Belgium later on Saturday, due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
In Group A, Portugal face Serbia in Belgrade, hoping to improve on a disappointing performance in their opening 1-0 win over Azerbaijan.