Netherlands were forced to come from behind at half time to beat ten-man Kazakhstan 3-1 in the Amsterdam Arena to record their first European Championship qualifying win.

huntned sknmAfter losing their opening match to the Czech Republic, Netherlands were expected to record a comfortable victory over Kazakhstan. However the visitors handed Guus Hiddink’s side an almighty scare in Amsterdam. On 17 minutes, Kazakhstan won a corner and after Bruno Martins Indi failed to stay with Renar Abdulin, the defender headed powerfully past Jasper Cillessen to give the minnows a shock win.

From that moment on Kazakhstan sat deep and although Netherlands were camped in the opponents half they struggled to find a way through in the first half. Robin van Persie sent a header onto the roof of the net, while Jeremain Lens could only fire into the side netting after Gregory van der Wiel’s cut back.

In the second half, Hiddink sent on Klaas jan Huntelaar, who minutes later was left furious when he didn’t receive a cut back from Van Persie, who shot wide, and the Netherlands captain showed his annoyance back by gesturing to Huntelaar to be quiet. However it was Huntelaar who drew the Dutch level in the 61st minute, as the striker sent an excellent header into the bottom corner from Ibrahim Afellay’s cross.

The goal seemed to kill Kazakhstan’s spirit, and they were then reduced to ten men with Baurzhan Dzolchiev shown a straight red after a lunge at Ibrahim Afellay. Netherlands bombarded the Kazakhstan goal, but Arjen Robben’s free kick came off the bar, while the winger also curled just wide.

Finally after 82 minutes Ibrahim Afellay’s shot from the edge of the box deflected into the bottom corner to give Netherlands the lead, and seven minutes later Van Persie added the third from the penalty spot, after the captain was tripped.

It was not a vintage Dutch performance but all that matters is the three points, and although questions will be asked of Guus Hiddink’s tactics, Netherlands are off and running in their pursuit of a place in the European Championships.

In the other group games, Iceland recorded a 3-0 win in Latvia to go top, while the Czech Republic recorded a 2-1 win in Turkey. Netherlands now travel to Iceland on Monday in what is another must win game for Hiddink if they are to top the group.

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