Tuesday, 29 March 2016

England 1 v Netherlands 2 - International Match

Tuesday 29th March 2016
International Match
at Wembley Stadium
England (1) 1
Jamie Vardy 40
Netherlands (0) 2
Vincent Janssen 50 pen, Luciano Narsingh 77
Attendance: 82,835
In the grand scheme of things, friendly results are much of a muchness in the build up to major tournaments. These games are in essence merely public practice matches.
That said, it was the nature of the way that Germany were overcome and the resilience and camaraderie shown, during an entertaining comeback on Saturday night, that made that one a bit special, notwithstanding the concern about where the defence had vanished to for both of the host nations goals.
But, they're reigning World champions and we're just England, that team that at least approximately 80% of our own population want to see fail at the Euro 2016 tournament so they can have a damn good gloat. And the backlash has already started tonight as Danny Blind's team stole a narrow victory.
Suffice to say, I'll be turning my social media accounts off during this Summer's tournament, when everyone and anyone will become an expert on the national team and critic of a manager who has actually been doing a great job thus far.
Some sections have been bemoaning the fact that Roy Hodgson is still trying out different formations of players and saying that he should stick with a winning team. But surely he is actually being quite shrewd to that end and adopting a belt and braces policy. Who would have imagined a month ago that both Joe Hart and Jack Butland were going to be absent due to injuries? And that kind of misfortune can befall any team member in any position, fail to prepare n' all that.
1 Fraser Forster (Southampton), 2 Kyle Walker (Tottenham), 5 Chris Smalling (Manchester United), 6 John Stones (Everton), 3 Danny Rose (Tottenham); 7 James Milner (Captain - Liverpool), 4 Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City), 11 Adam Lallana (Liverpool), 8 Ross Barkley (Everton); 10 Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), 9 Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool).
Subs - 14 Theo Walcott (Arsenal) for Sturridge 58, 12 Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool) for Rose 58), 16 Phil Jagielka (Everton) for Smalling 70, 19 Harry Kane (Tottenham) for Lallana 70, 20 Dele Alli (Tottenham) for Milner 82, 18 Eric Dier (Tottenham) for Drinkwater 84.
Unused subs - 13 Tom Heaton (GK, Burnley), 15 Gary Cahill (Chelsea), 17 Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), 21 Danny Welbeck (Arsenal)
1 Jeroen Zoet, 2 Joe Veltman, 3 Jeffrey Bruma, 4 Daley Blind (captain), 5 Jetro Willems; 6 Richedly Bazoer, 10 Georginio Wijnaldum; 7 Memphis Depay, 8 Ibrahim Afellay, 11 Quincy Promes.
Subs: 17 Luciano Narsingh for Promes 36, 18 Marco van Ginkel for Bazoer 79, 15 Patrick van Aanholt for Willems 82, 16 Jordi Clasie for Janssen 90.
Unused subs - 23 Kenneth Vermeer (GK), 23 Michel Vorm (GK), 12 Rick Karsdorp, 13 Virgil van Dijk, 19 Klaas van Huntelaar, 20 Luuk de Jong, 21 Timo Letschert.
In the 14th minute of tonight's game an image of the recently deceased 'Dutch master' Johan Cruyff appeared on the Wembley screens and spontaneously the entire crowd stood and applauded, out of respect to an all time footballing legend and genius innovator.
No Holland player wore the iconic number 14 shirt tonight, it's been retired as a tribute to a real legend.
As 82,835 football supporters stood side by side, united in a gesture of celebration of the mark that Cruyff left on the world stage, it is almost unthinkable that the current Dutch team haven't even qualified for this years showpiece event in France.
But the legacy of the great Netherlands teams of the past, still affords them the status of box office opposition and the near sell out crowd and extraordinary amount of ticket touts patrolling Wembley Way, is testament to that.
One for all the new Leicester City fans
Obviously there are a lot of genuine Leicester City fans around and they were no doubt out in force tonight to support Danny Drinkwater and Jamie Vardy. But there were also a hell of a lot of people around sporting suspiciously brand new looking Foxes attire. I hope the local charity shops can deal with the influx of Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea, Man Utd, Man City and Liverpool shirts. What a nation of fickle bandwagon jumpers we are, eh!?
A most flattering photo image (not)
But of course, the fall and rise of Leicester City and the antics of one 'off the cuff' instinctively brilliant individual among their ranks, makes for a quite incredible story. Long may it continue I say. And it was virtually inevitable that Jamie Vardy who weigh in with a goal tonight, when Kyle Walker picked up a pass from Adam Lallana and unselfishly laid the ball sideways for the 'cult figure' striker to drill the ball past Jeroen Zoet, as half time approached.
For the record that was England's 100th goal while Roy Hodgson has been at the helm.
There is much talk of the England centre forward's roots in non league football, but. for the record, I have actually seen Walker, the goal provider in action against Retford United, at Cannon Park just up t'road from my house.
Prior to the break, England had created several good chances and didn't seem to be in any kind of danger of losing this 'friendly paced' game.
But during the break the Dutch feasted on raw meat and fig biscuits, washed down with cans of 'Monster' energy drinks (thought that story is as of yet unconfirmed) and they emerged for the second half looking far more competitive.
John Stones, the highly rated Evertonian, slipped and gave the ball away to Vincent Janssen who forced a save from Fraser Forster and in the ensuing scramble Luciano Narsingh's cross hit Danny Rose on the arm. He couldn't get out of the way, but it was one of those moments when you're screaming "Ball to hand!" if it's your defender, or "Penalty ref!" if you're on the attack.
The small gathering of Dutch fans who barely filled a narrow corner section in the top tier, must have shouted the loudest and Janssen duly netted with a spot kick to level things up.
Prior to Jansenn smashing the ball into the top corner, England hadn't conceded a goal at Wembley for 467 minutes. They must be doing something right then.
Vardy, who along with his Leicester team mate Drinkwater was putting in a great shift, looked as though he had restored England's lead with a thundering shot, but Zoet.
Holland took the lead amid controversy in the 77th minute, when Janssen shoved Phil Jagielka in the back before knocking the ball across the face of the goal for Narsingh to knock the ball past Forster.
The goal stood in spite of England's protests and the Dutch were a goal in front.
It's traditional for the Dutch to benefit from refereeing decisions in matches against against England, isn't it Ronald Koeman!?
The obligatory flags photograph
Enter Harry Kane, meaning England now had more attacking options as he linked up with Theo Walcott and Vardy. Kane put a shot just wide of the upright, but the Dutch had shut up shop and they saw the game out and claimed the victory. This was England's first home defeat since November 2013 when they lost to Germany.
England's next three 'home' games prior to the short haul to France, will be against Turkey at Manchester City, Australia at Sunderland and a final send off against Portugal at Wembley at the beginning of June.
FT: England 1 v Holland 2
It is about time the Bobby Moore statue got some TLC