Netherlands maintained its perfect World Cup 2014 qualification record with a 4-1 win in Romania on Tuesday, a result that saw the Oranje overtake their hosts at the top of Group D.
A thrilling first half saw Jeremain Lens and Bruno Martins Indi put the visitors two goals ahead in the opening 30 minutes, before a brilliant solo effort from Ciprian Marica pulled the hosts back into the tie. The Dutch would take a two-goal lead into the halftime break, though, with Rafael van der Vaart converting from the spot in added time. A late Robin van Persie strike sealed the victory for his side.
The match began in frantic fashion with both sides applying immediate pressure. The hosts were handed the first chance of note when nervy play at the back culminated in Johnny Heitinga fouling his opponent, with Gabriel Torje coming within inches of converting the resulting free kick. The 22-year-old's curling effort rocketed off the underside of the crossbar, allowing the visitors to clear.
The Oranje were on hand to respond just minutes later though, with Lens opening the scoring in the ninth minute. A poor clearance from Romania keeper Ciprian Tatarusano found the PSV man on the edge of the area, whose speculative header found its way into the back of the net.
The opening goal sparked a frenzied attack from the hosts, Gheorghe Grozav soon beating the offside trap to find himself one-on-one with Maarten Stekelenburg. The striker's attempt was straight at the Roma stopper however, and the 29-year-old confidently collected the effort.
Romania's offensive intentions left gaps to be exploited for the Dutch however, who quickly settled into a midfield rhythm. The Oranje nearly doubled their lead off a corner in the 17th minute, when Van Persie's classy flick was well parried by Tatarusano. A free kick from range was mishit by the Manchester United forward shortly after, as the visitors continued to draw fouls from the hosts in the final third.
It was from a set piece that Netherlands found its second goal, with Martens Indi tapping home a Rafael van der Vaart free kick to double his side's lead on the half hour mark. The Feyenoord defender was allowed to drift away from his marker as the ball curled in, and converted with the simplest of finishes from point-blank range.
The Tricolori piled on the pressure with halftime approaching, and Marica pulled the hosts back into it with a virtuoso goal in the 39th minute. The Schalke forward beat three Dutch defenders en route to the edge of the area, where he unleashed a low drive past Stekelenburg to halve the Oranje's lead.
The Dutch were able to restore their two-goal lead before the break, when Gabriel Tamas brought down Luciano Narsingh with the ball seemingly rolling out of play. Van der Vaart confidently stepped up to convert the resultant penalty, rocketing a low drive past the hands of Tatarusano.
Tempers boiled over as the match drew to a close, with the home crowd seething at the decision to deny the hosts a penalty. A flurry of bookings were issued in the final 10 minutes, but the Dutch maintained their composure to put the match to bed in the 85th minute. Narsingh found Van Persie with a brilliantly weighted low delivery from the right, which the Manchester United striker converted in clinical fashion.
The Netherlands now tops group D with 12 points, while Romania finds itself tied for second with Hungary.