SOFIA: Netherlands skipper Arjen Robben described his team’s shock 2-0 World Cup qualifying defeat to Bulgaria as “a nightmare” as the three-time runners-up were left in danger of missing the 2018 finals.
The loss left the Dutch six points behind Group A leaders France, who beat Luxembourg 3-1, and down in fourth spot.
They are also three back from Sweden, who defeated Belarus 4-0, and two behind Bulgaria with just the group winners guaranteed a place in the finals in Russia.
“What can I tell you? We came here with good intentions, but it has become a nightmare,” 33-year-old Bayern Munich winger Robben said.
“We win together and we lose together. Now we’ll get shit all over us. It’s sad. I’m speechless. The first half was shocking.”
Bulgaria stunned the Dutch with two goals in the first 20 minutes, both coming from Spas Delev who opened his international account.
Delev pounced on a mistake by 17-year-old Matthijs De Ligt, Holland’s youngest debutant since 1931, who misjudged a pass and allowed the striker to slot the ball past Jeroen Zoet.
Delev then made it 2-0 when he unleashed a stinging right-foot drive past Zoet.
Danny Blind’s Dutch dominated large parts of the rest of the game but were thwarted by a solid Bulgarian defence while goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov pulled off a super save in the second period to deny Davy Klaassen.
Bas Dost had a weak header saved by Mihaylov as the Netherlands were left contemplating missing a second successive major tournament having also failed to qualify for Euro 2016.