Holland 3 Japan 0
Japan frustrated Holland for over an hour in this afternoon’s international friendly in Enschede before late goals from Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and substitute Klaas Jan Huntelaar secured victory for Bert van Marwijk’s team.
The first half was a cagey affair between two teams who should be in relaxed mode having already qualified for next summer’s World Cup finals in South Africa.
But it took until the 69th minute for the deadlock to be broken by Arsenal forward Van Persie, with Inter Milan midfielder Sneijder doubling the hosts’ lead four minutes later and AC Milan forward Huntelaar sealing matters three minutes from time.
Sneijder could have opened the scoring as early as the third minute when he fired in a 25-yard free-kick but his effort was comfortably dealt with by Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.
The visitors were restricted to long-range efforts from Keiji Tamada, Shinji Okazaki and Makoto Hasebe, none of which tested Oranje stopper Michel Vorm.
Van Persie carved out several opportunities for himself as the half wore on, first lashing over the bar twice and then seeing a right-footed blast caught by Kawashima two minutes before the break.
Gregory van der Wiel also tried his luck before half-time but failed to get his right-footed effort on target from 30 yards as the teams headed in at the interval goalless.
Espanyol’s former Celtic midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura came within a whisker of giving Japan a shock lead just after the hour when his left-footed free-kick was tipped over the bar by Piet Velthuizen, a half-time replacement for Vorm.
Back at the other end, Kawashima too was forced to tip over his bar to keep out a right-footed free-kick from Dutch substitute Eljero Elia.
The breakthrough finally arrived in the 69th minute, when Hamburg winger Elia fed Van Persie to lift the ball into the top-left corner from close range.
Before the Japanese visitors had time to regroup Holland were two goals to the good as Sneijder latched onto Demy de Zeeuw’s right-wing cross and despatched a right-footed volley into the top-right corner.
Kawashima had to be alert to prevent it quickly becoming 3-0, the Japan stopper punching to safety from Sneijder’s 25-yarder.
Sneijder then had to be replaced by his former Real Madrid team-mate Rafael van der Vaart 12 minutes through time due to a knee injury, which may prove a blow for the Dutch ahead of Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against Scotland.
Huntelaar, on in place of Liverpool’s Dirk Kuyt on the hour, smashed a volley just wide from Van der Vaart’s corner 12 minutes from time as the Oranje continued to push for a third.
And it finally arrived three minutes from time. Elia was again the provider, supplying Huntelaar who slotted into the bottom-right corner.