Klaas Jan Huntelaar stands every chance of becoming his country's record goalscorer at this level after scoring twice to seal the Netherlands a spot at next summer's UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
Record in sight
Slovenia travelled to the Abe Lenstra stadium, the home of Huntelaar's club side SC Heerenveen, with confidence high following a scoreless draw in their home leg on Sunday. However, they failed to find the away goal which could have given this tie a different complexion, and instead are left to reflect on what might have been after Huntelaar struck in either half. The 22-year-old has now scored 14 U21 goals for the Dutch, one adrift of the mark set by Roy Makaay and Arnold Bruggink.
Huntelaar makes amends
Goalkeeper Samir Handanović was the Slovenian hero in the first match but, in front of a capacity crowd of 21,200 spectators, was beaten after only eleven minutes of tonight's reverse fixture. Having missed four gilt-edged opportunities on Saturday, Huntelaar quickly made amends on home soil as he played a sharp one-two with PSV Eindhoven midfielder Ismaïl Aisatti to burst through the Slovenian defence and apply the perfect finish.
Romeo Castelen had joined up with U21 squad still suffering from a minor hamstring injury sustained on senior duty against Italy, and Dutch plans were disrupted three minutes after Huntelaar's opening goal when the Feyenoord striker limped off to be replaced by Quincy Owusu-Abeyie. Senior internationals Ron Vlaar and Urby Emanuelson had also started but, despite their presence and the early concession, Slovenia refused to be cowed and with Dalibor Stevanovič prompting cleverly from midfield, went close to an equaliser only for Dutch goalkeeper Boy Waterman to keep out Dejan Robnik's attempt.
Slovenia failed to capitalise on that spell of pressure, however, and fell further behind on the hour as Edson Braafheid supplied a perfect cross and Huntelaar headed in to double the Dutch lead. The visitors also ended the tie with ten men following the dismissal of Dejan Urbanc in the 83rd minute, by which time their hopes had long gone as Foppe de Haan's side kept their composure to preserve a place in next year's finals.