June 6, 2009 / 8:53 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Netherlands first Europeans to qualify for World Cup

* Dutch qualify for World Cup finals

* First European country to book place (adds detail, quotes)

REYKJAVIK, June 6 (Reuters) - Two early goals put the Netherlands on track for a 2-1 win against Iceland on Saturday and secured their qualification for next year’s World Cup finals in South Africa.

They clinched the top position in Group Nine with 18 points after six matches, 11 more then second placed Scotland, and are the first European country to book their finals place.

Holding midfielder Nigel de Jong headed home the opening goal after eight minutes following a fine cross from Rafael van der Vaart.

Mark van Bommel doubled the lead seven minutes later with a well placed shot from just outside the penalty area.

Kristjan Sigurdsson pulled one back for the home side two minutes before time with a close range header.

“Winning six straight World Cup qualifiers deserves a compliment,” coach Bert van Marwijk told RTL4-TV.

“My goal was to qualify for the finals so now we have a year to prepare ourselves, but we also want to win the last two qualifying matches.”

The Dutch produced a magnificent first half in which they created at least a dozen chances.

Robin van Persie hit the post after a defence splitting combination. Winger Arjen Robben struck the side netting and tested goalkeeper Gunleifur Gunleifsson on at least three other occasions.

“I enjoyed our first half but was less satisfied about all the missed chances as we should have scored four or five to finish it,” added Van Marwijk.

“What we showed today we should also do against strong opponents because Iceland today were our weakest opponents in the group.”

Netherlands will host Norway on Wednesday in Rotterdam and play Scotland away on Sept. 9.

The group winners qualify for the finals while the best eight runners-up from the nine groups go through to a playoff.

Writing by Theo Ruizenaar in Rotterdam, editing by Dave Thompson. To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com

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