Two goals from captain Arjen Robben ensured Netherlands started their post-Euro qualifying failure with a win, as the Oranje beat Wales 3-2 in Cardiff. 

  • By Michael Bell
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rob daleyDanny Blind spoke of the game as a new start for the national team as they prepare for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers next September, and the coach opted for a return to Louis van Gaal’s 5-3-2 formation as he sets out a more defensively safe future for the Oranje.

However with five defenders on the pitch for both sides in Cardiff the game was a stalemate in the opening stages and it wasn’t until the 16th minute that there was an effort on goal, with Bas Dost heading straight at Wayne Hennessey.

In the 32nd minute the deadlock was broken with Daryl Janmaat’s excellent cross reaching Dost at the back post and the striker headed in from close range for his first international goal.

Wales, without star man Gareth Bale, barely threatened the Dutch defence, but in the last minute of the first half they were awarded a penalty when Terence Kongolo was punished for a handball. Jasper Cillessen had never saved a penalty in 27 previous attempts, but he guessed right to push away Joe Allen’s spot kick, only for Joe Ledley to beat him with the rebound.

Less than ten minutes into the second half Arjen Robben, who was easily the most threatening man on the pitch,  restored Netherlands lead after cutting in from the right before sending an unstoppable strike past Hennessey. Once again Netherlands couldn’t hand onto the lead though with their fragile defence going missing from a corner on 70 minutes allowing Emyr Hews to head past Cillessen.

The night was to be Netherlands though thanks to Robben, who slid in Dost’s pass to ensure the Dutch kept up their perfect record against Wales.

Blind’s side now travel to Germany for another friendly on Tuesday, but how will they cope without the absent Robben, who will sit out the tie.

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