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Louis van Gaal was critical of his Netherlands side despite their 3-1 victory over the USA sealing a place in the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

The Dutch were on the back foot for much of the first half but went into half-time 2-0 up thanks to fine goals from Memphis Depay and Daley Blind.

Haji Wright pulled one back for the USA late on but Denzel Dumfries struck a third for Van Gaal’s men to prevent a nervy finish.

Denzel Dumfries
Denzel Dumfries starred for Netherlands (Nick Potts/PA)

“I was very critical at half-time in my analysis that I share with my players,” said the 71-year-old. “Although we were in the lead 2-0, I think they were fantastic goals with beauty and team spirit.

“However, in the first half we were dispossessed so much and it was not necessary. That’s simply not acceptable at a World Cup. If you play top-notch countries, you simply can’t make those mistakes.

“In the second half they did a much better job I think even though we scored fewer goals. Nonetheless we were all very, very pleased and it gives us incredible confidence.

“I think we have big chances here. We still have three matches to go. I’ve been talking about this for a year that we can become world champions.”

Dumfries set up the first two goals and prevented the USA scoring with a last-gasp clearance, leading Van Gaal to pay a special tribute in the press conference to the Inter Milan right-back.

“Yesterday or the day before yesterday I gave him a big, fat kiss and I’m going to give him another big, fat kiss,” said Van Gaal before leaning over and giving Dumfries a peck on the cheek.

The 26-year-old was named after American actor Denzel Washington, and he said: “I’m incredibly proud of that because Denzel Washington is a really strong personality who voices his views on certain issues and I see that as an example.”

The USA went into the game with high hopes and coach Gregg Berhalter was left disappointed with the result, if not the efforts of his players.

Netherlands celebrate
Netherlands are into the last eight in Qatar (Adam Davy/PA)

“First of all congratulations to Holland for the victory and for advancing to the next round,” he said.

“This is a tough one to swallow for us. The guys put everything they had into it. Such a good group of guys, such a close-knit group of guys, you just want more for them.

“Tonight we came up short. We talked about the game being about moments and I think the first half was a great indication of that. We were on top for a lot of the first half and two moments come and all of a sudden we’re down 2-0.

“Overall I’m extremely proud of this group for the way they handled themselves both on and off the field. We set out with a goal to show the rest of the world how we can play soccer and I think we partially achieved that, although we fell short of our goals.”