Robben ruins Pearce’s England debut

Arjen Robben’s stoppage time goal gave the Netherlands a 3-2 victory over England in a friendly on Wednesday after the hosts had mounted a late recovery in interim coach Stuart Pearce’s first game in charge.

Arjen Robben scored in stoppage time to give the Netherlands a 3-2 friendly victory over England on Wednesday, ending a three-match winless run for the 2010 World Cup finalist exactly 100 days before the European Championship.

It was the second goal for Robben, who first put the Dutch in front in the 57th minute after ripping through the defense.

Teammate Klaas-Jan Huntelaar headed in another two minutes later, but had to be replaced after clashing heads with England defender Chris Smalling in the process of scoring.

England staged a late comeback at Wembley Stadium under interim coach Stuart Pearce, with Gary Cahill and Ashley Young scoring twice in the last five minutes.

But Robben produced another classy moment in stoppage time, sending a deflected shot past goalkeeper Joe Hart after being set up by Mark van Bommel.

”Robben is a great player,” Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk said through a translator. ”He enjoyed himself very much.”

It wasn’t an enjoyable night for England, which was unbeaten through 2011 but has begun the new era following Fabio Capello’s resignation earlier this month with a loss.

”I think they needed a touch more belief that they could hurt a team of this ability,” Pearce said. ”I didn’t see it as a big night for me. I wasn’t auditioning for anything.”

Pearce harbors hopes of leading England at Euro 2012 if the Football Association cannot find a full-time successor for Capello before then.

For that reason, the under-21 England coach dropped several experienced players against the Dutch, giving younger players a chance to shine against a European power.

At the start of the match, the English faced nine players who featured in the World Cup final in July 2010, when the Netherlands lost to Spain.

The visitors had the Premier League’s top scorer up front – Arsenal’s Robin van Persie – and left Huntelaar, the leading Bundesliga scorer on the bench. Meanwhile in England’s attack, Danny Welbeck was playing his fourth international and searching for his first goal.

The first half was denied a goal by several decisive interventions by new England captain Scott Parker on Van Persie and Wesley Sneijder.

”The first half was not that bad – we lost against Germany (in November) and didn’t want to lose again tonight on the counterattack,” Van Marwijk said. ”So we played more stable.”

The game didn’t come to life until Robben’s opener. The Bayern Munich winger picked up possession inside his own half, racing forward with the ball before slotting it past Hart on his preferred left foot.

Within two minutes, Huntelaar headed in his 31st goal in 50 internationals, after Dirk Kuyt found the space to cross from the right flank. While Huntelaar limped off after the head clash, however, Smalling had to be carried off on a stretcher.

The Dutch appeared to be cruising toward victory until Cahill raced onto a pass from Leighton Baines in the 85th.

And the English looked to have salvaged a draw when Young chipped the ball over goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg after neat linkup play by Theo Walcott and Phil Jones.

Robben, though, had the final say when he curled the ball into the hosts’ net.

”We probably showed a little bit of naivety,” Pearce said. ”That’s something we’ve got to get into the squad, going forward. Once we’d got ourselves back into the game, we’re disappointed to have been beaten. But there were a few good showings, we learned a lot and that was the exercise.”



England: Joe Hart, Micah Richards, Leighton Baines, Chris Smalling (Phil Jones, 64), Gary Cahill, Gareth Barry (James Milner, 46), Scott Parker, Adam Johnson (Stewart Downing, 61), Ashley Young, Steven Gerrard (Daniel Sturridge, 33), Danny Welbeck (Fraizer Campbel, 80).

Netherlands: Maarten Stekelenburg, Khalid Boulahrouz (Ron Vlaar, 82), Johnny Heitinga, Joris Mathijsen, Erik Pieters (Stijn Schaars, 46), Mark van Bommel, Dirk Kuyt, Nigel De Jong, Robin Van Persie (Klaas Jan Huntelaar, 46; Luuk De Jong, 62), Wesley Sneijder (Urby Emanuelson, 76), Arjen Robben