Dutch delight over England
Written By: Robert Halter
Scott Parker captained England for the first time as the Three Lions interim manager Stuart Pearce took charge of the international friendly with Holland at Wembley Stadium for the leap year match on February 29. In the opening minute, a lob shot by Leighton Baines nestled on the top of the Dutch crossbar and then on six minutes, Gary Cahill narrowly headed over an Ashley Young corner. Holland threatened on nine minutes with a swerving shot by Erik Pieters, who was set free from Arjen Robben’s pass. But Robben tested Joe Hart on thirteen minutes, as he cut inside Micah Richards and blasted a shot at the Three Lions goalkeeper, after Wesley Sneijder had created the opportunity. In the twenty fifth minute, Adam Johnson turned inside Pieters and Nigel De Jong, before his strike at goal was deflected behind by John Heitinga. A dejected Steven Gerrard marched down the tunnel as he was replaced by Daniel Sturridge on thirty two minutes. Young miss directed a header from Johnson’s cross, two minutes from the end of the first half. Robin Van Persie’s involvement in the match was ended at half time as he was replaced by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. On forty eight minutes, Young’s corner flew over Richards and Sturridge struck a low shot that Maarten Stekelenburg prevented sneaking inside his near post with a full length dive. But the Dutch responded five minutes later when from Sneijder’s touch, Huntelaar let rip with a rasping effort which fizzed past the left post. The deadlock was broken in fifty seven minutes, as Robben ran from inside his own half as Huntelaar’s run off the ball distracted Cahill and Chris Smalling, before Robben went away from Cahill before producing a magnificent solo effort by drilling a crisp low strike into the bottom right corner to give Holland the lead and the Dutch went further ahead two minutes later, when from Dirk Kuyt’s right wing cross, Huntelaar headed the ball into the heart of the net but clashed with Smalling in the process, as both players required lengthy treatment and as Huntelaar walked off the pitch clutching a bandage to his mouth to stem the blood flow, Smalling was taken away on a stretcher. After a six minutes delay, Stewart Downing squandered a chance for England as he steered the ball wide from James Milner’s cross. Another opportunity went astray for England on seventy two minutes as Sturridge’s tamely hit shot failed to test Stekelenburg while being put clean through from Baines pass. England finally got on the score sheet in the eighty fifth minute, as Cahill shifted aside of Joris Mathijsen before striking a shot past Stekelenburg from six yards out, after Baines had put a pass through. The Three Lions equalised just over ninety minutes, when from the edge of the box Theo Walcott laid the ball off to Phil Jones, who cleared the way for Young, who chipped the ball over the advancing Dutch keeper Stekelenburg, into the left side of the net. But there was a sting in the tale, two minutes into stoppage time when Urby Emanuelson’s cross from the left was half cleared by Richards and as Mark Van Bommel put the ball back into Robben on the right of the box. Robben then tricked Baines before curling a strike that deflected off Cahill and flew over Hart into the far top corner to cap a 3-2 victory for Holland over England.