Netherlands 2 Wales 0
Wales had their four match unbeaten run of form brought to an end by Brazil bound Netherlands in their friendly at the Amsterdam Arena, with Bayern Munchen striker Arjen Robben on target during the first half, then substitute Jeremain Lens sweetly swept home the second after seventy seven minutes. (reports Robert Clement).
The Wales starting line-up showed five changes following the 3-1 win against Iceland at the City of Cardiff Stadium in March, with
Joe Ledley, Danny Gabbidon, James Chester, Simon Church and Jonathan Williams, replacing Emyr Huws, James Collins, Ashley Williams, Sam Vokes and Gareth Bale.
The two teams previously met in June 2008, with a first half strike by Robben, followed by a second half free kick from Wesley Sneijder, providing the Netherlands with victory in the Rotterdam encounter.
With Robin van Persie having secured victory for Netherlands against Ghana four days ago, it was the Manchester United striker who threatened to make a third minute impact, with him weaving a path into the eighteen yard area forcing Wayne Hennessey to react smartly with his right footed on target drive being blocked; Neil Taylor then instantly reacted with a timely clearance to relieve the pressure on the Wales goal.
Four minutes later there was a bright threat by Wales, when skipper Joe Allen intelligently found the support of Jonathan Williams, with the lively player causing concern to the host’s defence producing a swift burst of speed, but it was the quick thinking Bruno Martins Indi who supplied a timely challenge, to halt the progress of the five times capped Crystal Palace youngster.
There was an addition attacking threat after twenty one minutes, when Neil Taylor released Simon Church, who made a darting run forward down the left side to raise hopes along with expectation for the Wales supporters with his delivery into the goalmouth being cleared unconvincingly over his own bar by Martins Indi.
That threat appeared to dampen the party like atmosphere, but the crowd soon sparked back into life when Sneijder combined with Robben to create a shooting chance, but his left foot goalbound effort fortunately saw Chris Gunter’s hasty arrival prevent Netherlands from making a positive breakthrough.
With Robben having missed that chance, he didn’t fail at the second opportunity, with him opening the scoring for his 23rd international goal from eight yards being swept in, after Hennessey’s right leg had blocked a by-line drive from van Persie.
Having created that goal, van Persie was inches away from establishing a second goal four minutes prior to the interval, with the ball despatched wide of the upright, following a Daryl Janmaat cross into the danger zone.
Wales had their best opportunity to equalise midway into the second half, with a quick thinking throw from Gunter setting up Jermaine Easter within seconds of his arrival in place of Church, however it was goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen who was aware of the threat, and hastily advanced off his goal-line, to block and deny the Millwall player a first senior international goal.
Fulham youngster George Williams was given an opportunity after seventy one minutes, replacing Jonathan Williams after being called into the squad following the withdrawal of Bale, and he made a stunning impression within two minutes, with a good run into the Netherland’s penalty box, avoiding a series of challenges, but it was the outstretched foot off Ron Vlaar that denied Williams a worthy moment of glory.
The Netherlands added a second goal with thirteen minutes remaining, when Sneijder released Robben on halfway, with him then accelerating clear outpacing Gabbidon on a quick silver counter attack; his right sided delivery into the penalty box was then snapped onto by Lens who despatched a right foot finish from five yards.
Wales’s manager Chris Coleman later provided his reaction on the performance and the result in the Arena Media Suite.
“We don’t like to lose, but it was a defeat, and I don’t think that we could have done much more against a strong international outfit”.
“We were brave against good attacks and we stayed strong, but it was disappointing with the two goals we conceded which were probably preventable”.
He added: “Our lads have had four training sessions in almost a month, and we were playing against a top team who have been together for two or three weeks, and this is their third friendly in that time”.
“We did what we could, and possibly could have got one or two goals ourselves, but it certainly was a great performance from the team”.
“We had a lot missing tonight tactically, but what we showed was passion, and when we didn’t have the ball we worked hard to get it”.
“It’s a tricky time of year to have a friendly, with a catalogue of players absent, but all who are with us done their best, with it having been a long hard season”,
The former Swansea City defender added. “After coming off the bench, George Williams zipped past three Dutch defenders, and only a last-ditch tackle from Ron Vlaar stopped him from shooting”.
“George is a very good player, with him being fearless and also being prepared to run at the opposition. He’s confident and he’s earned his performance tonight”.
“We’ve got some good young players coming, James Chester was excellent at the back with Danny Gabbidon, but they can all be proud, because I thought it was a great performance”.
Team captain Joe Allen later spoke with WPL reporter Robert Clement, with him providing his thoughts on the game.
“We’re disappointed to lose the game, but the manner we performed today against a top team was no disgrace at all. I thought in the first half in particular we matched them, but we were a little unlucky how we conceded the first goal”.
The former Swansea City youth product having advanced forward in leaps and bounds under the youth structure of David Moss to the current day Brendan Rogers, added: “I think that it was an impressive performance from us. You lose any football game and there will always be an element of disappointment, but I think we can really be proud of our performance against a top team who are preparing for the World Cup”.
“For us to have put that shift in, considering a lot of us have been off for three or four weeks is a testament to the effort the boys are willing to put in”.
“I felt the biggest positive we could take was the fact that it showed we have a strength in depth with us now that hasn’t been there for a long while”
“We were missing key players in Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Ashley Williams who is our captain, so to have performed that way shows there’s no weak link now”.
“We have so many players to choose from now, and everyone is staking a claim, and that’s exactly what you need in international football if you want to reach your targets and be successful”.
Netherlands: Jasper Cillessen, Ron Vlaar, Stefan de Vrij, Bruno Martins Indi, Daley Blind, Daryl Janmaat, Nigel de Jong (Klaas Jan Huntelaar 78th min), Robin van Persie (capt) (Jeremain Lens 46th min), Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben, Leroy Fer (Georginio Wijnaldum 46th min).
Unused substitutes: Paul Verhaegh, Joel Veltman, Terence Kongolo, Dirk Kuyt, Memphis Depay, Michel Vorm, Tim Krul.
Wales: Wayne Hennessey, Chris Gunter, Neil Taylor (Paul Dummett 83rd min), Joe Ledley (Emyr Huws 62nd min), Danny Gabbidon, James Chester, Joe Allen (capt), Hal Robson-Kanu (Declan John 60th min), Simon Church (Jermaine Easter 67th min), Andy King (David Vaughan 78th min), Jonathan Williams (George Williams 71st min).
Unused substitutes: Owain Fon Williams, Connor Roberts, Owain Tudur Jones, Lewin Nyatanga, Ashley Richards, Tom Lawrence.
Referee: Bulent Yildirim (Turkey).
Score summary: Netherlands: Arjen Robben 32nd min. Jeremain Lens 77th min.