AMSTERDAM (AP) — Arjen Robben ensured that the Netherlands bowed out of World Cup qualification in some style Tuesday, scoring both goals as the Dutch beat Sweden 2-0 before then announcing his retirement from international football.
The winning margin at the Amsterdam Arena was nowhere near enough for the Netherlands, which had to beat Sweden by seven goals to move into second place in Group A.
The Swedes, who looked content to defend throughout the match, finished second and go into a playoff for the World Cup in Russia next year. France beat Belarus 2-1 to seal top spot in the group and automatic qualification.
If other players had emulated Robben’s finishing prowess, the Dutch would have been much closer to the unlikely score they needed.
Defender Kenny Tete, midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum both squandered good chances in the first half and Ryan Babel came close with a long-range free kick.
It was 33-year-old Robben’s 96th and final international for the Netherlands and he stamped his authority all over the match, taking his tally of goals to 37, level with Dennis Bergkamp.
He announced his retirement from the national team after the game.
Robben gave the Netherlands the lead when he converted – though only just – a 16th minute penalty with a fluffed Panenka chip.
There was no sign of a mis-hit for his second goal, a powerful first-time shot from just outside the penalty area that fizzed past Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen and into the top corner in the 40th minute.
As the final whistle sounded, the crowd rose to give Robben a standing ovation, chanting, “Arjen, thanks” in Dutch.