The Netherlands received goals from Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder to earn a workmanlike 2-0 friendly victory over China.
China was actually the more dangerous side at the outset. The Dragon were able to create the first chance of the match as captain Zheng Zhi ran free at the back post but wasn't able to head the ball on target. A golden opportunity missed right away.
The Netherlands, having avoided the early setback, got on the scoreboard in the 11th minute courtesy of Robin van Persie. Arjen Robben was fouled in the box by Zhang Linpeng and a penalty was given. The Manchester United star made no mistake, easily beating Zeng Cheng.
Just a few minutes later, the Dragon made another crucial error. Qin Sheng came in very high on Jonathan De Guzman just outside of the box, and the referee gave him a straight red. It was the type of mistake China couldn't afford against the talented Oranje.
While the Netherlands took control of the first half from that point, it wasn't able to capitalize. Robben dribbled free in the box, but proceeded to hit the side netting. Van Persie narrowly missed his second tally as his open header sailed wide of the post.
All told, the Chinese defensive effort improved markedly after the red card. At the same time, the Oranje missed a couple chances they would usually convert.
The Netherlands came out with an early flurry to start the second half. Van Persie hit the post, which turned into an opportunity for Robben, who promptly struck a shot off the crossbar.
More missed chances by the Dutch squad.
Jeremain Lens was the next Netherlands star who couldn't make it 2-0. After breaking free from the defense he hesitated in the box, which gave Cheng enough time to come out and make the stop.
Finally, in the 66th minute, the Oranje converted for a second goal. A quick break that featured four passes in the span of about 10 seconds resulted in a tremendous finish by Sneijder, a second-half substitute. He beat Cheng to the far post with his back to the goal.
From there, the Dutch, who were wearing special kits for the visit to China, were able to relax after some tense moments. Just like last week's victory over Indonesia, it was sluggish at times, but they fought through it.
China was unable to mount any type of sustained rally as the Netherlands maintained possession and waited for the final whistle, which came with a 2-0 score at Workers Stadium.
Zeng Cheng (China): B
Made a couple nice saves and commanded his box well to keep China close for a majority of the match. Neither of the goals the Netherlands scored could be pinned on him. His highlight was stopping Lens on a point-blank opportunity in the second half.
Zheng Zhi (China): B-
China will wonder if the result would have been different if Zhi was able to convert his chance early in the match. If the Dragon had grabbed a 1-0 lead and put some pressure on the Dutch, perhaps they would've been able to earn the victory or at least a draw. He didn't but still had a solid overall showing.
Robin van Persie (Netherlands): A-
A very nice performance from the Manchester United striker. He was a constant threat in the attacking third and made the penalty conversion look routine. The only reason he doesn't receive a perfect grade is his inability to capitalize on the few chances he had that could have made the scoreline more lopsided.
Arjen Robben (Netherlands): A-
Robben should finally get a chance to sit back and enjoy everything he has accomplished for club and country after another great showing. The Bayern Munich man played a role in setting up both Dutch goals and almost notched a few of his own.
|Jonathan De Guzman||MF||B+|
|Jens Toornstra||MF||C+ |
|Siem de Jong||MF||C+|
|Robin van Persie||FW||A-|
The Netherlands returns to the pitch for a road friendly with Portugal in August. It's followed by the final stretch of the current World Cup qualifying round in September and October.
China has another friendly lined up for Saturday against Thailand. The Dragon will then take part in the 2013 East Asian Cup starting in late July.
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