Netherlands keep Euro 2016 hopes alive with Kazakhstan victory
Danny Blind claimed his first victory as Netherlands manager as they defeated Kazakhstan 2-1 to keep their Euro 2016 qualifying hopes alive.
The Dutch can only progress to France next summer via a play-off, with Iceland and the Czech Republic already through from Group A, and they trail Turkey by two points in the race for third spot.
However, with Turkey facing the Czechs later on, the Oranje applied some pressure with a comfortable victory at the Astana Arena thanks to goals in either half from Georginio Wijnaldum and Wesley Sneijder on a night when Robin van Persie came off the bench to win his 100th cap.
Islambek Kuat claimed a consolation for the hosts but Blind's men, who have qualified for every major international tournament since the 2002 World Cup and have been at every European Championships since Euro 1984, host Czech Republic in their final game on Tuesday knowing their qualifying aspirations have not been extinguished yet.
However, should Turkey manage a least a draw at home against Iceland on Tuesday, Netherlands will be staying home next summer.
Young winger Anwar El Ghazi was handed his first senior cap for the Oranje and the 20-year-old had two early chances to open his tally for his country.
El Ghazi, who has scored seven goals in 10 games for club side Ajax already this term, curled one effort straight at goalkeeper Stas Pokatilov before directing a header wide after Memphis Depay's deep cross had found him at the back post.
He then turned provider to pick out midfielder Wijnaldum, who beat Pokatilov to the ball only to loop a header over the crossbar.
The Dutch had failed to score in either of Blind's previous two games in charge and Depay squandered a chance to break that duck when a slight touch from Pokatilov's foot diverted the Manchester United forward's shot wide of the post in a one-on-one situation.
However, three minutes later, El Ghazi and Wijnaldum combined again to make sure it was not a costly miss.
El Ghazi ventured in from the right flank and shuffled the ball into the Newcastle midfielder's path and he steered a low shot into the far corner from the edge of the area.
Five minutes after the restart, captain Sneijder added a second following a brilliant move down the left.
Jairo Riedewald, Depay and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar were all involved, the latter finding Sneijder inside the area and he lashed his first-time shot into the top corner.
El Ghazi was denied a debut goal moments later when the home defence cleared the ball off the line after Virgil van Dijk had met the corner and found the Ajax winger in the six-yard box.
Southampton's Van Dijk and Ajax's Kenny Tete were both making their bows in an inexperienced back four but they had been largely untroubled by their hosts.
That changed when Gafurzhan Suyumbayev sent a cross back into the box from a semi-cleared corner and Yuri Logvinenko, who had lost Van Dijk, headed a glorious opportunity wide from six yards.
Kazakhstan were unable to capitalise on their short period of dominance, though, even after an injury to goalkeeper Tim Krul called Jeroen Zoet into action from the bench.
Blind introduced Van Persie for Huntelaar with three minutes to go for his landmark appearance and although Kuat swept home a consolation from Sergey Khizhnichenko's head across, it came in the fifth and final minute of stoppage time.