Late goals by Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaassen gave the Netherlands a 2-0 victory over African champions Senegal on Monday as the three-time beaten finalists made their return to the World Cup stage.
But with just six minutes remaining PSV Eindhoven forward Gakpo got up in front of Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to head in a floated Frenkie de Jong cross from the left.
Substitute Klaassen then secured the victory deep in injury time, following up to score after Mendy had saved from Depay, who had also come off the bench.
"I always had the feeling we were going to score a goal," said Van Gaal, who is in his third spell as coach of the national team.
"It was an efficient win but I also thought we were fitter because every two minutes the Senegalese were lying on the ground.
"So I think it was a well-deserved victory even if I don't think it was a good match from us."
The result leaves the Netherlands level at the top of the group with Ecuador, who beat hosts Qatar 2-0 in the tournament's opening match on Sunday.
Van Gaal's side play Ecuador on Friday, while Senegal now face a must-win contest against Qatar.
Senegal saw Bayern Munich superstar Mane -- who came second in this year's Ballon d'Or -- pull out of the squad with a leg injury on the eve of the tournament.
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