Georginio Wijnaldum scored twice as the Netherlands got the better of Belarus 2-1 on Sunday evening.
After the calamity of failing to qualify for last year's World Cup, Netherlands are close to securing their return to the big stage, although they were unimpressive in Minsk.
Memphis Depay was absent with a thigh injury, and the Lyon forward was badly missed after his strong form for Oranje this year.
It fell to Liverpool midfielder Wijnaldum to make the difference, with his neat header and spectacular long-range strike doing the damage for Ronald Koeman's men before Belarus' Stanislav Dragun breathed fresh life into the contest.
The hosts should have gone ahead midway through the first half when Igor Stasevich's cross from the right fell to Denis Laptev, seven yards from goal.
An opening goal looked inevitable, but Matthijs de Ligt threw himself brilliantly in front of the striker's shot to make a block, before Laptev sent his follow-up off target.
Wijnaldum made the breakthrough in the 32nd minute, jumping to guide a cross from Quincy Promes into the top left corner.
His second goal nine minutes later was a stunning effort from 28 yards, raking from the left of goal into the right top corner.
Evgeni Yablonski was a yard away from a copycat strike for Belarus moments before half-time.
The hosts got one back after 53 minutes when Dragun headed home Denis Polyakov's cross from the left, getting in behind Virgil van Dijk - a rare error from the centre-back.
It was a first goal at home for Belarus since last October, when they beat Luxembourg 1-0, and Netherlands were rattled, Stasevich and Yablonski both threatening to bring the game level.
Luuk de Jong headed over as Netherlands looked for a third goal to kill the contest, and Donyell Malen fluffed a great chance late on.