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Netherlands suffer home defeat to Bulgaria

Published: Saturday 26 May 2012, 23.40CET
Netherlands 1-2 Bulgaria
Ivelin Popov and Ilian Micanski struck in the second half as the visitors came from behind to inflict a first home defeat in 19 games on the Oranje.
by Berend Scholten
Netherlands suffer home defeat to Bulgaria
Dutch forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (right) could not prevent defeat against Bulgaria ©AFP
Published: Saturday 26 May 2012, 23.40CET

Netherlands suffer home defeat to Bulgaria

Netherlands 1-2 Bulgaria
Ivelin Popov and Ilian Micanski struck in the second half as the visitors came from behind to inflict a first home defeat in 19 games on the Oranje.

The Netherlands surrendered a half-time lead to suffer their first home defeat in 19 games at the hands of Bulgaria, on a day when Jetro Willems made his international debut for the hosts.

Hours after naming his final 23-man squad, Bert van Marwijk handed Willems his international debut, with the 18-year-old becoming the youngest debutant since Gerald Vanenburg in 1982. His side took a half-time lead through Robin van Persie, but Ivelin Popov's penalty five minutes after the break and Ilian Micanski's 90th-minute strike sealed victory for Bulgaria.

The visitors started strongly and came close to taking the lead but Valeri Bozhinov's free-kick hit the crossbar with Tim Krul, starting in place of the injured Maarten Stekelenburg, beaten all ends up. Joris Mathijsen was forced off with a hamstring injury on 16 minutes but the Oranje made the breakthrough just before the break when Van Persie collected a neat pass from Wesley Sneijder and converted with ease.

Bulgaria started the second half strongly and levelled thanks to Popov's spot kick after Rafael van der Vaart was penalised for handball. The introduction of Dirk Kuyt and Arjen Robben from the substitutes' bench failed to have the desired effect and the visitors clinched victory in the final minute.

Stanislav Manolev intercepted John Heitinga's pass and centred for Micanski to score and leave Dutch coach disappointed with side's second half performance. "Before half time it was OK, but after the equaliser, right after the break, things went wrong for us," he said. "In the first half we had a bit of bad luck but after Bulgaria's equaliser it became a frustrating match for us."

The Netherlands take on Slovakia on Wednesday before their final friendly game against Northern Ireland on 2 June. The Oranje kick off their final tournament against Denmark on 9 June ahead of matches against Germany and Portugal.

Last updated: 19/09/12 3.15CET

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