England 2 - 3 Netherlands: Oranje crush for England as late fightback is to no avail

STUART Pearce’s first game as England’s interim manager ended in defeat as Holland’s Arjen Robben scored an injury-time winner in the friendly international at Wembley.

Holland struck twice in two minutes early in the second half through Robben and substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Gary Cahill and Ashley Young looked to have salvaged a draw for England by netting twice in three minutes late on, but Robben had the final say. Scott Parker, who was surprisingly named England captain for the night, quickly made his presence felt with a perfectly timed tackle to halt Robin van Persie in full flight. Holland, featuring nine of the team which started the 2010 World Cup final, enjoyed plenty of early possession. Chris Smalling had to be alert to cut out Van Persie’s reverse pass intended for Dirk Kuyt at the expense of a corner.

Parker then produced another excellent block on the edge of the England area from a fierce Wesley Sneijder shot as Holland knocked the ball around in confident style.

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England goalkeeper Joe Hart made the first meaningful save when he beat out a fierce Robben effort. Van Persie threatened danger after cutting in from the left but again Parker came up with the crucial challenge. Maarten Stekelenburg fisted away a Young free-kick in a rare moment of danger for the visitors. England came more into the game and a misdirected headed back pass from Kuyt almost played in Welbeck, but Stekelenburg was alert to the danger and came quickly off his line to clear. Adam Johnson created space for himself after some trickery and his shot hit John Heitinga and flew past the post. England then had claims for a penalty rejected after a challenge on Welbeck by Heitinga after Johnson and Richards had combined well to set up the opportunity. Stuart Pearce was forced to make his first change after 32 minutes with Steven Gerrard appearing to have picked up a knock. He was replaced by Daniel Sturridge with Ashley Young moving into the centre, Johnson reverting to the left flank and Sturridge on the right.

The Chelsea player quickly made his presence felt with a burst of pace and low cross which was dealt with by Joris Mathijsen. Van Persie drew jeers from the home fans when he shot high and wide from 20 yards out, while an inswinging free-kick from Young was just too high for Welbeck. Pearce made one half-time substitution with Gareth Barry replaced by James Milner. At the same juncture Van Persie and Erik Pieters made way for Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Stijn Schaars. Richards was booked within a minute of the restart for bringing down Robben. Stekelenburg was forced into his first save of the game in getting his body behind Sturridge’s low shot from just inside the box. Huntelaar was only a couple of feet wide of the target with a powerful 25-yard drive.

But after 57 minutes Robben broke the deadlock with a superb finish. Sturridge was dispossessed but there was still plenty of work for Robben to do as he attacked the penalty area from the half-way line.

But he was unchallenged before driving a low shot past Hart into the corner of the net. Sixty seconds later Huntelaar doubled Holland’s lead as he got above Chris Smalling to head home a right-wing centre from Kuyt. Huntelaar and Smalling both had to be substituted after a clash of heads by Luuk De Jong and Phil Jones respectively before play could continue. The England player, who was stretchered off, looked the more seriously injured of the pair.

Cahill reduced the arrears after 85 minutes when running onto a pass from Baines. Sturridge suffered what looked like an ankle injury and was replaced by Theo Walcott for the final three minutes.

In injury-time Young appeared to have salvaged an unlikely draw for England when he chipped the ball over Stekelenburg after good play by Walcott and Jones. However, a minute later Robben curled the ball past Hart for a Dutch winner.