The Netherlands assumed control of their FIFA World Cup™ qualification group with a thumping win over Romania in their top-of-the-table clash in Bucharest. Romania had not conceded a goal in their opening three wins, which had them level at the top of Group D with the Dutch, but their perfect record was in ruins within the opening 45 minutes.
Jeremain Lens, Bruno Martins Indi and Rafael van der Vaart were all on target before the break to ensure the visitors were on course despite a fine individual effort from Ciprian Marica in reply for the hosts. Robin van Persie, who was preferred to start ahead of Klaas Jan Huntelaar, completed the rout four minutes from the end.
Netherlands had arrived in the Romanian capital wary of their opponents after their impressive win in Turkey last week ensured they kept pace with the Dutch at the top of the standings. But any fears they held were quickly allayed as they raced into a 2-0 lead before the half-hour.
Lens grabbed a stunning opener after ten minutes when he headed in from 20 yards. Romania goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu had seemingly cleared the danger with a punch that cleared the area, but Lens powerfully headed the ball straight back and over a home defender stationed on the line.
The visitors' advantage was doubled on 28 minutes when Van der Vaart's superb free-kick was turned in by Martins Indi at the back post. Martins Indi's task was made easier as the home defence failed to follow his run that was superbly picked out by Van der Vaart's delivery that fizzed across the top of the six-yard box.
Romania were in need of some inspiration to claw back the early damage and in Marica they found it on 40 minutes. The striker was surrounded as he began his run just outside the area but after fending off the attention of Johnny Heitinga he wriggled into space before sliding a perfectly-placed shot past Maarten Stekelenburg.
The lifeline lasted just seven minutes, however, as the hosts gave away an injury-time penalty. Gabriel Tamas brought down Luciano Narsingh in the area and Van der Vaart tucked away the ensuing penalty despite Tatarusanu guessing the right way.
Romania never recovered from conceding the goal so late in the half and could have been four down soon after the re-start but Tatarusanu tipped away Van Persie's header. The Dutchmen cruised through the majority of the second period with a pair of unnecessary cautions for Lens and De Jong causing any reason for discomfort.
They mattered little, however, as Van Persie put the seal on a win that could prove vital. The Manchester United striker, who started from the bench in last week's win over Andorra, had the simple task to force the ball in after Narsingh beat the offside trap on the right and fired a low cross into his path.