Int’l roundup: Netherlands, Ireland run wild in pre-WCQ friendlies

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With the summer set of World Cup qualifying fixtures taking place next week, a roundup of a handful of international friendlies as some of the heavy hitters make final preparations…

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Netherlands 5-0 Ivory Coast

Dick Advocaat’s Netherlands (he took over from Danny Blind last month) are in danger of failing to qualify for back-to-back major tournaments — EURO 2016 and World Cup 2018 — as the Oranje currently sit fourth in Group A, three points back of second-place (playoff place) Sweden with five games still to play. Up next: Luxembourg, at home.

Sunday’s friendly against Ivory Coast will leave the Dutch slightly more optimistic than they were immediately following Blind’s dismissal, as three goals in 36 minutes put the result beyond doubt early on. Joel Veltman scored the opener after just 13 minutes, Arjen Robben converted from the penalty spot in the 32 minute, and Veltman made it 3-0 just four minutes later.

Davy Klaassen extended the lead to four in the 69th minute, and and Tottenham Hotspur’s Vincent Jannssen bagged his second goal in as many games this week six minutes later, though the 22-year-old striker yanked an open-net opportunity wide just 20 minutes earlier.

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Ireland 3-1 Uruguay

At the halfway point of qualification in Group D, Ireland are sitting pretty ahead of next week’s visit from Austria. After five of 10 games played, the gap between second-place Ireland and third- and fourth-place Wales and Austria is four points; the gap between Ireland and first-place (automatic qualification) Serbia is zero — the Boys in Green trail only on goal differential (+6 to +4).

On Sunday, Martin O’Neill’s side scored a confidence-boosting victory over (a Luis Suarez-less) Uruguay at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Edinson Cavani lasted just 11 minutes for La Celeste after falling victim to a challenge from debutant Kevin Long. Uruguay, who currently sit third in CONMEBOL’s 10-team, double round-robin qualification competition, resume qualification at the end of August, when fifth-place (playoff place) Argentina invade Montevideo.

Stoke City’s Jonathan Walters put the home side with a well-struck effort just before the half-hour mark, but Atletico Madrid’s Jose Gimenez brought the visitors level just 10 minutes later, courtesy of a blunder by West Ham United’s Darren Randolph. Derby County’s Cyrus Christie fired Ireland back ahead six minutes after halftime, and West Bromwich Albion’s James McClean completed the scoring in the 77th minute.

Elsewhere in international friendlies

Armenia 5-0 St. Kitts and Nevis
Luxembourg 2-1 Albania
Montenegro 1-2 Iran