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Robben's Netherlands strike thwarts England

Published: Wednesday 29 February 2012, 22.54CET
England 2-3 Netherlands
Arjen Robben struck in added time after Ashley Young looked to have earned England a draw in Stuart Pearce's first game in temporary charge.
by Andy James
from Wembley

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Published: Wednesday 29 February 2012, 22.54CET

Robben's Netherlands strike thwarts England

England 2-3 Netherlands
Arjen Robben struck in added time after Ashley Young looked to have earned England a draw in Stuart Pearce's first game in temporary charge.

A late strike from Arjen Robben denied England an impressive comeback as the Netherlands claimed a 3-2 friendly victory at Wembley.

The Dutch absorbed continuous pressure throughout the opening period but looked to have secured the win with two goals in three second-half minutes from Robben and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. However, England, under the temporary charge of Stuart Pearce, showed excellent character to level the scores through Gary Cahill and Ashley Young, only for Robben to respond in an added time.

England's inexperienced side started promisingly in front of their home crowd, exerting some impressive spells of pressure on the 2010 FIFA World Cup finalists. Leighton Baines, starting ahead of Ashley Cole at left-back, almost provided an unorthodox opener in the opening couple of minutes as his cross-cum-shot threatened to catch out Maarten Stekelenburg. Cahill then glanced the second of two Steven Gerrard corners narrowly wide.

At the other end, Robben tested Joe Hart with a dangerous drive from the left, but otherwise the Netherlands struggled to find their rhythm as the first half matured. Newly-appointed captain Scott Parker was exemplary in England's midfield, orchestrating from deep and twice blocking powerful efforts, first from Wesley Sneijder and then from Erik Pieters.

Despite the loss of dynamic midfielder Gerrard to injury, England maintained control either side of the interval, with Adam Johnson's winding run and shot only taken wide by the leg of John Heitinga. Gerrard's replacement Daniel Sturridge added further purpose to the Three Lions' attack, but the home supporters were stunned near the hour as the Oranje seized the advantage with a quick-fire double.

FC Bayern München forward Robben pounced on a loose ball before driving into the opposition half and rifling in a low strike from the edge of the box that left Hart with no chance. Before the hosts had had a moment to settle it was two, substitute Huntelaar capping his 50th international appearance with a well-taken header from Dirk Kuyt's cross.

Undeterred, England continued in their search for a breakthrough and reduced the arrears when Cahill applied a composed turn and finish with five minutes remaining. Young looked to have completed a courageous fightback in the final minute as he lifted a deft chip over Stekelenburg into the corner, but as England fans celebrated, Robben had other ideas and curled in a sweet winner.

Last updated: 16/04/12 7.36CET

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