AMSTERDAM — In a normal World Cup year, bars, pubs and cafes in the Netherlands are decorated in orange well before the tournament and filled to maximum capacity with soccer fans. The Dutch call it “Orange fever.”
But this year, that fever has largely been lacking.
It might be because it’s winter. It might be because Qatar’s human rights issues have dominated the news coverage of the event. It might be because some establishments have decided not to show the games as they usually would.
Walker Zimmerman wagged his finger in the air from where he lay sprawled out on the ground. He shook his head and yelled, “No, no, no, no, no!” But it was to no avail. The referee was already pointing to the penalty spot.
The United States had been leading Wales by the narrowest of margins in the teams’ return to the World Cup when, with roughly 10 minutes remaining, Zimmerman slid into the legs of Gareth Bale and sent the Welsh superstar tumbling to the grass.
Soon Bale was on his feet again, blasting his penalty kick into the right corner of the net, the goal that helped Wales snatch a 1-1 draw that may have suited both teams, but will have really pleased only one of them.
The goal that distinguished the Dutch on Monday came late, against the run of play and after several missed chances. But it granted them victory nonetheless against a stubborn Senegalese side that demonstrated, even without the forward Sadio Mane, the quality to emerge from a rugged Group A.
The Netherlands leads that group after escaping Al Thumama Stadium as 2-0 winners over Senegal, going ahead in the 84th minute on a slick header by the ascending star Cody Gakpo, who timed his run across the box perfectly to glance a pass from Frenkie de Jong into the net.
In the final seconds of injury time, in the 99th minute, Davy Klaassen assured that the Dutch would stay atop Group A with Ecuador, which defeated Qatar on Sunday, by pouncing on a rebound.