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Huntelaar thanks Netherlands's lucky stars

Having enabled the Netherlands to snatch a point in a game when they "didn't play particularly well", Klaas-Jan Huntelaar told UEFA.com about his unstoppable equaliser.

Huntelaar thanks Netherlands's lucky stars
Huntelaar thanks Netherlands's lucky stars ©UEFA.com

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's added-time goal kept the Netherlands in contention for automatic qualification from UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group A – and also preserved an astonishing record.

By cancelling out Burak Yılmaz's first-half strike he made sure that Oranje preserved a 50-game unbeaten streak as the home team in UEFA European Championship qualifiers. More crucially for him and his team-mates, the draw kept the Dutch in third place behind the Czech Republic and Iceland, resurrecting what was increasingly looking like a lost cause. "We didn't play particularly well and we didn't move the ball forward quickly enough," he said. "So to still take a point from the game is a big bonus."

With Bas Dost playing alongside Huntelaar as the game entered its final phase, the ground-based passing style normally associated with the country that produced the 1988 European champions made way for a more direct approach. Deep crosses were flying in from both flanks. Yet it was his typical close-quarters predatory instinct that kicked in to save the day.

"I saw the ball coming straight at me and tried to change its direction slightly with my head," he explained. "In that respect it was similar to the goal we conceded in the first half, and in both cases the keeper doesn't really stand a chance."

The shot he diverted came from the irrepressible Wesley Sneijder, who was still driving his team forward and probing for openings as the seconds ticked away. Captain for the night and equalling Frank de Boer's record of 112 caps for a Dutch outfield player, the Galatasaray AŞ midfielder's never-say-die attitude eventually reaped rewards.

"He's such an important player for us," said the FC Schalke 04 striker Huntelaar. "He has a great shot, he scores, he gives assists, he coaches." With Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Kevin Strootman all unavailable through injury, it was up to veterans like Huntelaar and Sneijder to deliver. When the chips were down, they did not disappoint.