[ENGLAND-NETHERLANDS] A drab England-Netherlands friendly came to life in a big way in an incident-filled last half an hour as the Dutch went ahead 2-0, England
then pulled even in the first minute of stoppage time, but Arjen Robben won the game a minute later for the Dutch, 3-2. The loss was the first in more than a
year for the English, coached for the first and perhaps last time by interim coach Stuart Pearce.
"The aim of the exercise was to learn about one or two individuals and about their credentials for the summer," said Pearce, the U-21 coach promoted after Fabio Capello quit, "and I've learnt a lot. I've offered my services in the summer, I've really enjoyed these last few days. The players have been outstanding."
Robben was given acres of room to score the first goal, and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar made it 2-0 on a clash of heads with defender Chris Smalling that resulted in both players being taken to the hospital.
Gary Cahill and Ashley Young answered back for England before Robben's late winner.
"Once we got ourselves back in the game," added Pearce, "we are disappointed we have been beaten. It's disappointing to lose but the exercise was to learn from it. We came up against an outstanding side and the exercise will stand our young players in good stead."
The learning experience came at a price.
Besides Smalling's injury, Steven Gerrard went off with a hamstring injury, and his replacement, Daniel Sturridge, injured his big toe late in the game.
Feb. 29 in London
England 2 Netherlands 3. Goals: Cahill 85, Young 90+1; Robben 57, 90+2, Huntelaar 58.
England -- Hart, Richards, Cahill, Smalling (Jones 64), Baines, Gerrard (Sturridge, 33), Parker, Barry (Milner 46), Johnson (Downing 61), Welbeck (Campbell 80), Young.
Netherlands -- Stekelenburg, Boulahrouz, Heitinga, Mathijsen, Pieters (Schaars 46), Van Bommel, Nigel De Jong, Robben, Sneijder (Emanuelson 76), Kuyt, Van Persie (Huntelaar 46; De Jong 62).
Referee: Felix Brych (Germany)