England Vs. Holland: Robben Brace Puts Down England

Caretaker England manager Stuart Pearce would have been hoping for a good result from his side today in their friendly against the Netherlands at Wembley. He very nearly got it too, only to be denied at the last minute by a lovely goal by Arjen Robben that made it 3-2 to Holland.

A win would very probably have been undeserved - England did a fine job imposing themselves on the match in the first half before falling apart defensively in the second, conceding twice in two minutes thanks to a fine finish from Robben and then a header from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. The second goal also cost the Three Lions centre back Chris Smalling, who was badly hurt in a collision with Huntelaar as he tried to cut out Dirk Kuyt's cross. The Manchester United centre back eventually left the pitch on a stretcher, going straight to hospital with a head injury.

Holland weren't really deserving of a two-goal lead and England began taking steps to reduce the deficit, coming closest when substitute Daniel Sturridge missed a sitter from two yards out, firing straight at a hopelessly out of position Maarten Stekelenburg rather than simply guiding the ball into the back of the net. The Chelsea man would limp off the field shortly thereafter.

England's next few attacks had more luck. Gary Cahill decided to play striker for a little while and was put clean through (from an offside position, however) on goal, shooting past Steckelenburg to make it 2-1. Then another centre back got involved in the attack, with Phil Jones slipping club teammate Ashley Young in to dink over the goalkeeper's head and make it 2-2 in the 91st minute.

Pearce must have thought his side had secured a draw, but with almost the last kick of the game, Robben danced into the penalty area, cut back onto his left foot, and made seven England defenders look like idiots with a sweet curled finish.

Ultimately, a 3-2 loss in a friendly game doesn't matter that much, and there were a few encouraging performances from Pearce's perspective. However, there were also far too many injuries, with Steven Gerrard, Smalling and Sturridge all forced off the pitch. You can bet that there'll be a set of clubs rather angry that their players were hurt in a completely meaningless match.

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