The Netherlands made it three successive wins under Louis van Gaal with a 1-0 triumph over Latvia.
The 70-year-old coach backed up his impressive victories over Turkey and Montenegro in September by narrowly overcoming the resilient hosts in Riga to remain top of Group G after seven games.
For all of their fluid and sweeping attacking football, the Dutch broke the deadlock in route-one fashion, Memphis Depay’s corner delivery finished by the right boot of Davy Klaassen in the 19th-minute.
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Latvia’s response was immediate, however, and having barely sneaked out of their half until conceding, they twice went close in a matter of moments from swift counter-attacks. Fresh from scoring, Klaassen was required defensively to block Andrejs Ciganiks’ goal-bound shot, and moments later Virgil Van Dijk spared the Netherlands’ blushes, charging down Roberts Uldrikis’ point-blank effort.
The hosts played with nine men behind the ball for the majority of the night, but when another opportunity fell the Dutch’s way after the restart, Cody Gakpo failed to hit the target with his header from six yards out.
Denzel Dumfries’ effort was cleared off the line, Depay poked wide and Ryan Gravenberch was repelled by goalkeeper by Roberts Ozols, as the Netherlands’ frustration grew.
And they had to survive an almighty scare in stoppage-time when goalkeeper Justin Bijlow was called into action for the first time, saving Ciganiks' venomous half-volley.
Ultimately, just the one goal would settle the contest, however, as the Netherlands moved two points clear at the top of the group after Turkey and Norway played out a 1-1 draw.

TALKING POINT - Dutch move a step closer to Qatar qualification

Having scored 10 goals in their last two matches, the Netherlands started the game full of confidence, and when Klaassen scored relatively early, you feared the worst for Latvia. However, to their credit, the hosts dug in, defended resolutely and presented a real threat on the counter-attack. Clearly, the Oranje were not at their best and almost paid the price for it.
But a win is a win, and, ultimately, this latest triumph means the Dutch have their destiny in their own hands. An almost guaranteed three points will follow on Monday when they host minnows Gibraltar, and then we're into November when they conclude their campaign with back-to-back games against Montenegro (a) and Norway (h). On current form, Van Gaal will fancy his side's chances of grabbing the four points they will more than likely need to qualify automatically.
Qatar is now tantalisingly close for the Netherlands - if they can hold their nerve.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Roberts Ozols (Latvia)

The 26-year-old goalkeeper was only standing in as a deputy but grabbed this rare opportunity with both hands, producing a fine display to frustrate Depay and co.


Latvia: Ozols 8*, Savalnieks 6, Cernomordijs 6, Dubra 7, Jurkovskis 6, Zjuzins 6, Emsis 6, Jaunzems 6, Kigurs 6, Ciganiks 7, Uldrikis 7.. subs: Stuglis N/A, Ontuzans N/A, Tarasovs N/A, Krollis N/A, Karklins N/A
Netherlands: Bijlow 6, Blind 7, Van Dijk 6, De Vrij 6, Dumfries 7, Til 6, F de Jong 7, Klaassen 7, Gakpo 7, Berghuis 7, Depay 7.. subs: Lang 6, Gravenberch 6, Weghorst 5.


19’ - GOAL! Latvia 0-1 Netherlands (Davy Klaassen): A lovely goal breaks the deadlock! Depay whips in a corner delivery, Van Dijk is clearly the target but it's over him. Klaassen leans back and rifles in a delightful right-footed shot into the bottom corner.
22’ - Latvia go close to an equaliser! Van Dijk's misplaced pass allows Latvia to pour forward in numbers. Ciganiks' goalbound shot is blocked on the line by Klaassen and the loose ball drops to Uldrikis. With the goal at his mercy, it takes a deflection and Latvia have to settle for a corner!
25’ - Another chance for Latvia! The hosts are full of belief now and only a crucial block by Van Dijk on Uldrikis' shot rescues the Netherlands from embarrassment! Kigurs had created the opening, Jurjovskis couldn't get his effort away but it falls for Uldrikis and he can't turn it home.
77' - Latvia are hanging on by a thread! Olzens, who is supposedly Latvia's number two, makes an outstanding save to repel Gravenberch from point-blank range!
90+2 - Big save! Bijlow in the Dutch goal keeps out Ciganiks' venomous half-volley with a strong save! That was nearly the equaliser! He's had nothing to do all night but the goalkeeper had to be alert there!
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