On Saturday, the Netherlands lost their friendly to Bulgaria 2-1, courtesy of a penalty and a last minute goal. This time around, Holland managed to beat Slovakia, but once again, the weaknesses in the Dutch side were exposed. Considering the repre haven't won a competitive match since last June, against Andorra, and Holland lost just once in Euro qualifying, Oranje supporters likely thought the friendly match in Rotterdam on Wednesday night would be an easy affair. But the 2-0 scoreline is deceptive: the first goal was an own goal by Kornel Salata, and it took until the 75th minute for Rafael Van Der Vaart to score the second.
The match started off well for the Slovaks, with captain Marek Hamsik sending a header off the bar in the early minutes. But shortly after, their defence disintegrated. Ibrahim Afellay got in behind Peter Pekarik, who failed to get the ball to safety. Salata attempted a clearance but instead knocked the ball past his own goalkeeper, Jan Mucha.
Slovakia didn't do themselves any favors later in the half, particularly when a sloppy backpass allowed the visitors a free kick just seven yards out from goal. Hamsik sent it short to Miroslav Stoch, who blasted what should have been an easy goal right into the side netting. But a stronger, or perhaps less experimental, side could have done some damage to the Dutch. Holland's defensive play left much to be desired, with both Gregory Van Der Wiel and John Heitinga making sloppy mistakes.
It was only in the last twenty minutes or so that Holland started to show their strength -- and the greater their attack, the less their defensive errors seemed to matter. The goal from Van Der Vaart showed the oranje at their best, as the attackers weaved through the Slovakia defence. With two defenders doing their best to stop Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Van Der Vaart was able to slip through, grab the ball, and drive it into the far corner of the net.
And so a win for Holland, this time, but not one that gives a lot of confidence to Netherlands supporters. They're very aware that not only does the group contain both Portugal, who could surprise, and Denmark, whom many feel will surprise, but their most mortal football enemies, Germany. Barring a much better performance against Northern Ireland at the weekend, June 9th will likely have many in Holland biting their orange-painted nails.