The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Robin van Persie scores hat trick as Netherlands thrashes Hungary 8-1 in World Cup qualifier
AMSTERDAM - Robin van Persie scored a hat trick Friday to become the all-time Dutch top scorer as the Netherlands thrashed Hungary 8-1 in a World Cup qualifier.
The Netherlands had already qualified for next year's finals, and Hungary's hopes of consolidating second place in Group D were erased by a vintage Dutch performance.
With Romania beating Andorra 4-0 and Turkey downing Estonia 2-0, second place in the group is still up for grabs with one round to go.
Umut Bulut opened the scoring in the 22nd minute for Turkey in Estonia and Burak Yilmaz made it 2-0 in the 47th to Take Turkey into second in the group, ahead of Romania on goal difference.
Andorra managed to restrict visiting Romania to a Claudiu Keseru goal in the first half, but Bogdan Stancu, Gabriel Torje and Costin Lazar all scored as Romania stamped its class on the Group D minnow after the break.
Turkey and Romania's wins took them ahead of Hungary, level on 16 points.
In next week's final matches, Turkey faces a tough match against the Netherlands in Istanbul, Romania hosts Estonia and Hungary has a home game against Andorra.
Van Persie scored two first-half headers and tapped in his third in the 53rd to bring his tally to 41 goals in 80 internationals. Goals from Jeremain Lens, Kevin Strootman, Rafael van der Vaart, Arjen Robben and a Szilard Devecseri own goal completed the Netherlands's scoring. Balazs Dzsudzsak netted a penalty for Hungary.
Van Persie's second — which matched Patrick Kluivert's 10-year-old mark of 40 international goals — was the pick of the night's strikes. Robben fed Lens deep in the Dutch half, Lens sprinted forward before backheeling the ball back to Robben, who crossed for Van Persie to head powerfully past Adam Bogdan in the Hungary goal.
Van Persie ran to the sideline where he jumped into the arms of Kluivert, who is now one of coach Louis van Gaal's assistants.
"Of course, it was a great performance," Van Gaal said of Van Persie's hat trick. "But it was also all about how we put Van Persie in a position to score."
Van Persie, who had been in doubt for the match with an injured toe, lauded Robben's contribution.
"I thought the second was fantastic. The pass (Robben) gave was so beautiful — a floater I just had to nod in," Van Persie said. "The third was also a fantastic assist from Robben."
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