International Friendly: Netherlands 2-0 Spain

Sneijder
Holland beat Spain 2-0 in a friendly on Tuesday to earn embattled coach Guus Hiddink some breathing space after a poor start to his second term in charge of the Dutch national team.

Centre back Stefan de Vrij and midfielder Davy Klaassen scored first half goals for the Netherlands in the morale-boosting victory.

Spain, thrashed 5-1 by the Netherlands at the World Cup, never looked like gaining revenge thanks to a combination of bad finishing and good goalkeeping by Kenneth Vermeer.

Hiddink’s second stint as Netherlands coach has been disastrous so far. In seven matches ahead of Tuesday’s friendly, his team had beaten only Kazakhstan and Latvia in European qualifiers and lost to Italy, the Czech Republic, Iceland and Mexico in qualifiers and friendlies.

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, missing Chelsea striker Diego Costa, fielded an experimental side at the Amsterdam Arena, while Hiddink again had to make do without his injured stars Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben and was also missing center back Ron Vlaar.

The veteran coach made five changes to the team that needed an extra-time equalizer by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar on Saturday to salvage a 1-1 draw against Turkey that left the Netherlands third in Euro 2016 qualifying Group A.

Spain beat Ukraine 1-0 Friday and moved into second in Group C

‘We had a point to prove after the match against Turkey and we did that well,’ Netherlands captain Wesley Sneijder said.

De Vrij gave the Netherlands the lead in the 13th minute when he headed in a cross from Sneijder after Spain only half-cleared a corner.

Ajax midfielder Klaassen scored his first international goal to double the Dutch lead three minutes later when he slipped away from Santi Cazorla and fired a shot that David de Gea parried before Klaassen hammered in the rebound.

Vermeer preserved the Dutch lead with two good saves around the half-hour as Spain pressed forward. First the Feyenoord keeper advanced off his line to deny a rushing Gerard Pique and two minutes later scrambled to swat away the ball after Pedro had dispossessed Bruno Martins Indi.

Willems, brought in to left back to provide more attacking options, looked vulnerable early, giving away the ball twice in dangerous positions before providing the assist for Klaassen’s goal.

‘We have to learn from those mistakes where we shot ourselves in the foot,’ Hiddink said.

Spain looked the more dangerous team after the break but could not convert its chances. Cesc Fabregas and Vitolo both missed good chances before substitute David Silva finally found the net in the 70th minute – only to be ruled offside.

In between, Martins Indi missed a simple chance to put the match beyond Spain’s reach when he headed a Sneijder cross into the ground and over the bar from close range.

‘It’s a shame we didn’t take three points at the weekend,’ Hiddink said. ‘But this gives the team confidence.’