Netherlands 3 - 0 Scotland: Scots outclassed in Amsterdam

Huntelaar 30; van Persie 45; Kuyt 78pen

WELL, what were you expecting? Miracles don't often happen in football. Rarely do they happen twice. Scotland had its fill of the divine on that famous night in Paris, so that's your lot as far as the fantasy goes. This was reality writ large. Two goals down at the break, the only supernatural thing that happened at the Amsterdam Arena was that the Netherlands didn't ratchet up many more.

They had all the possession to double that number at the very least. Had they the drive and the ruthlessness to go with it they could have handed Scotland a ferocious beating, instead of a humiliation. That's what this was. For the entire second half the Dutch messed with the Scots as a cat toys with a mouse. Eventually, they grabbed a third, almost without trying, through a penalty when Christophe Berra brought down Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in the 77th minute.

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For all their talent, the Netherlands didn't need to be very good to win at a canter. For their all the creativity in their attack they didn't need to be all that clever to get their goals. They came from two headers following two bits of sleepy defending from the visitors, Huntelaar punishing them first and then Robin van Persie doing likewise just before the interval, and a then a third via a clumsy challenge. Kuyt stuck it away from the spot.

Before the penalty, Scotland had the ball in the Dutch net but Gary Caldwell's header was ruled out, for reasons not obvious to the naked eye. Would it have given Scotland a springboard back into the game? It might have, but only to those who believe the moon is made of cheese.

Missing nine squad players and upwards of three regular starters, this was always going to be about damage limitation. Berra played 34 minutes of international football in readiness for this. Ross McCormack had eight minutes to his credit before being selected, somewhat surprisingly. Kenny Miller was Scotland's great hope upfront. Miller, whose only goals in recent memory have come against a team in mortal danger of relegation from the SPL and a side just about holding their own in the Third Division.

Ah, Kenny. The striker who can't strike, the goalscorer who can't score. How many chances were Scotland going to get in this game? One, maybe. Two if they were lucky. They got one after 11 promising minutes and it fell to Mr Indecisive of Ibrox. Lord, why did it have to be him?

There was something surreal in the moment. A ball played up the right flank by Darren Fletcher and suddenly Miller was away, in space, free as a bird. He had the defenders trailing and the goalkeeper advancing.

He took a touch. Fair enough. He took another. No problem. He took another and another and after 15 minutes (possibly longer) he prepared to fire, by which time Joris Mathijsen had recovered his ground and was in position to block.

Miller hung his head, perhaps wondering if he'd been here before sometime. He had, of course. The San Siro a few years back. An early chance blown in similar circumstances on a night that ended 2-0 to Italy. Groundhog day, Kenny. Groundhog day in many senses.

Barring Miller's all too predictable and all too wearying miss, the rest of the opening 25 minutes was good for Scotland. They were organised in their 4-1-4-1 formation. They were crunching into tackles, they were cutting out crosses and winning corners. Nothing much was happening for the Dutch. They were getting on the ball but they weren't getting much joy.

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Nigel de Jong was booked for a foul on Barry Ferguson, Arjen Robben should have been booked for a ridiculous dive in a tackle from Scott Brown. All was okay, all was calm. And then the warning lights started to flicker.

Robben, for some unknown reason, was left to patrol the left flank unmarked. There he was, all on his lonesome and causing bother every time he got it. Any chance somebody might pick him up? Seemingly not. Robben could have scored in the 29th minute, Caldwell and Allan McGregor cutting him off together, but things were getting a little unsettling back there for Scotland. Caldwell and Berra were beginning to look exactly what they are; strangers to each other.

On the half-hour, the first Dutch breakthrough, and it was easy, painfully easy. Mark van Bommel got possession on the right side of midfield and no Scot came to hassle him. Not one. The Bayern Munich player had time to look up and see what was happening in the Scotland six yard box. Answer: plenty, and most of it was coloured orange. He curled in a beauty, the kind of delivery that makes defenders sweat. If there were any defenders, that is. There weren't any making their presence felt in Huntelaar's vicinity, that's for sure. Caldwell was close to the scene but he had two men to mark and ended up not marking either of them. Huntelaar had the simplest job of cushioning a header past a rigid McGregor's left hand and into the net.

Huntelaar is not in the business of missing chances of that nature and neither is Van Persie. With half-time approaching and the Scots needing to regather themselves, they got suckered for a second time. Robben took a corner and the only man to react to it was the Arsenal striker. He made a dash to get on the end of it and, ruinously, was allowed go on his way, nipping between Fletcher and Graham Alexander and heading home from an unmissably close range.

The rest was a stroll, played at the pace of the Netherlands' choosing. Kuyt, Robben and Robben again had shots on goal, but were kept out. Scotland struck but it was disallowed and then, straight after, the third arrived, Kuyt sending McGregor the wrong way from the spot.

Positives for Scotland? Alan Hutton came on and didn't collapse in a heap. The Dutch didn't score six. And, er, that's your lot.

Roll on Iceland on Wednesday night. Unlike this, that'll be a proper contest.


7 mins: Klaas Jan Huntelaar has the first shot at goal but his 18-yard strike is deflected harmlessly into the arms of Allan McGregor.

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12 mins: Arjen Robben's low cross is blocked by Gary Caldwell as Robin van Persie tries to meet the ball first time. Kenny Miller then beats the offside trap to race clear onto Darren Fletcher's ball but shows a lack of conviction, allowing Holland to regroup and crowd him out.

17 mins: Robben bursts onto Dirk Kuyt's chip forward and leaves Christophe Berra flat on his back but blazes a shot over.

18 mins: Nigel de Jong is booked for a crude tackle from behind on Barry Ferguson.

27 mins: Van Persie's teasing cross is narrowly missed by Huntelaar.

29 mins: Some magnificent jinking wing play from Robben is finally thwarted by a sprawling save from McGregor.

30 mins: Gregory van der Wiel's cross is nodded into the net by the unmarked Huntelaar, who escapes marker Graham Alexander all too easily.

45+2 mins: Van Persie runs from deep and meets Robben's inswinging corner completely unopposed to nod home.

51 mins: Dirk Kuyt's slightly mis-hit shot from Robben's low cross deflects off Alexander and narrowly wide of the post.

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54 mins: Scott Brown almost bundles his way past Andre Ooijer into the box but the Dutch defence recovers.

55 mins: Miller gets his head on the end of Gary Teale's cross but is under too much pressure to direct it properly.

60 mins: Robben plays a one-two with Huntelaar before curling a 20-yard shot which McGregor does well to save.

69 mins: Van der Wiel's cross is flicked on by Huntelaar to Robben, whose mis-hit finish is cleared by Caldwell.

74 mins: Caldwell powers a header into the net from Ross McCormack's corner but the goal is chalked off for no obvious reason.

77 mins: Berra's clumsy challenge on Huntelaar hands Holland a penalty and Kuyt steps up to send McGregor the wrong way.

80 mins: Huntelaar is booked for a shoulder charge on Alan Hutton.




6Justified his selection ahead of Craig Gordon merely by dealing with whatever came within his orbit pretty smartly and efficiently. Faultless at the two headed goals, before being sent the wrong way by Kuyt at the penalty.



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4The 37-year-old's 38th cap perhaps was one too many for a willing and decent servant of the international cause. Needed to catch a bus to get up to speed with Robben's runs and completely failed to track Huntelaar at Holland's opener. Gave way to Alan Hutton in the 73rd minute.



6Found the net with a magnificent header with the score at 2-0 only to be denied by the referee spotting an imagined infringement Until then, it was the, not unsually, mixed bag from the Celtic centre-back. Had a couple of injudicious moments, a couple of good blocks and a couple of interventions that were a bit of both.



5A couple of important interventions in the early minutes seemed to show that the Wolves centre-back was in the mood to make the most of a full competitive debut he landed through injuries to Stephen McManus and David Weir. Ruined that early impression with a ill-judged tackle on Huntelaar to give away a penalty.


Sheffield United

6Little evidenced with Holland preferring to raid down the right flank. Had zilch opportunity to provide attacking support on the overlap.



7Didn't see much of the ball but whenever he did looked like he could make something of it. A couple of short runs and intelligent passes meant his first competitive outing for his country was far from a dead loss.


Manchester United

5As is so often the way of it he seemed to find himself wholly on the periphery, with the exception of the chipped ball that sent Miller away for that accursed chance.



7Scotland's most effective midfielder even in not being particularly effective. Got involved, got himself up and down the pitch as his amazing engine allows, and at least looked a player who gave the opposition some worries whenever he got on the ball or drove forward.



5No one told the Dutch midfielders that the Rangers and Scotland captain was a spent force who struggles to influence games with the 30-year-old coming in for some harsh treatment. Not as harsh as the treatment he might come in for through being totally anonymous in the second period.



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5Played left in a midfield five, the winger had little opportunity to shine in his first international start in 18 months and his first involvement of any variety in the Scottish set-up for a year. Replaced by Morrison in the final minutes.



4The hope and despair the striker typically produces in equal measure was laid bare in the encounter's pivotal moment after 11 minutes. His pace and anticipation allowed him to meet a through ball and set up a glorious one-on-one before his hideously flawed finishing resulted in him flawing it appallingly. Hooked for Steven Fletcher with 19 minutes remaining.


Steven Fletcher Hibs First competitive international was hardly in the easiest circumstances.

Alan Hutton Spurs Had one good marauding run in his first senior outing in four months

James Morrison West Brom His introduction three minutes from time was surely just to give him a taster.