Netherlands beats Mexico 2-1 in friendly

Robin van Persie celebrated his first international call up for six months by scoring two first half goals as an understrength Netherlands beat Mexico 2-1 in a World Cup warmup match on Wednesday.

Manchester United-bound forward Javier Hernandez pulled back a goal after the break, but a resurgent Mexico could not force an equalizer.

Playing his first match for the Netherlands since suffering a serious ankle injury against Italy in November, Van Persie was a constant threat in the first half along with PSV Eindhoven midfielder Ibrahim Afellay.

"At times, we played beautifully tonight," Van Persie said.

The Mexicans forced their way back into the match after Van Persie was substituted in the second half and Mexico strengthened its forward line.

Wednesday's match came a day before Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk was to name his final 23-man World Cup squad.

Van Marwijk left key players Wesley Sneijder of Inter Milan and Arjen Robben and Mark van Bommel from Bayern Munich out of his team to give them more time to recover from Saturday's Champions League final.

With Mexico coach Javier Aguirre also resting key players it was the Dutch who looked comfortable early on, playing their fast passing game while Mexico struggled on a rain-slicked pitch and its defense gave the Dutch forwards far too much room.

The space was a gift for Van Persie, who opened the scoring in the 17th minute when he fired in from close range after a cross from the left by Rafael van der Vaart left Mexico's two central defenders stranded. The Arsenal striker doubled the score in the 41st with a sweetly struck left-foot volley past goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. This time Afellay was the provider with a pinpoint accurate pass from the right.

Van Persie said the passes from Van der Vaart and Afellay, who may both struggle to start matches at the World Cup, showed the depth of quality in the Netherlands roster.

"If you look at the assists for my goals, they were world class," he said. "With such great passes, it's not too hard for me."

Afellay, fighting for a place in the final Dutch squad, threatened throughout the first half. He nearly set up Van Persie in just the 3rd minute, but defender Hector Moreno stretched to intercept the cross. A minute later Afellay dribbled to the right of the Mexican defense but Ochoa blocked his shot.

Real Madrid midfielder Van der Vaart also came close in the 8th minute when his curling long-range shot beat Ochoa but hit the base of the post.

Van Persie nearly turned provider early in the second half when he passed to Dirk Kuyt who was unmarked in the middle but shot wide when he could have put the result beyond doubt.

Mexico did not produce a dangerous shot on goal until the 58th minute, when second-half substitute Pablo Barrera unleashed a powerful right-foot drive that Netherlands 'keeper Maarten Stekelenburg dived to block.

Barrera and fellow substitutes Giovani Dos Santos and Carlos Vela of Arsenal turned the match Mexico's way in the second half as the Dutch defense struggled.

Dos Santos was denied in the 66th minute by a desperate block from Joris Mathijsen after Vela passed from the left.

Mexico converted its pressure in the 74th when Hernandez headed home at the far post as replacement defenders Vurnon Anita and Orlando Engelaar looked on helplessly.

Dos Santos nearly equalized a minute later but his left foot shot was deflected wide and Vela had the final shot of the game when he forced another Stekelenburg save with a low left-foot shot.

Mexico has two more warmup games, against Gambia and Italy, before kicking off the World Cup on June 11 against host South Africa. The Netherlands plays Ghana and Hungary in warmups before launching its World Cup campaign June 14 against Denmark in Johannesburg.


Netherlands: Maarten Stekelenburg, Edson Braafheid (Vurnon Anita, 46), Joris Mathijsen, John Heitinga, Khalid Boulahrouz, Stijn Schaars (Orlando Engelaar, 46), Ibrahim Afellay, Demy de Zeeuw, Rafael Van der Vaart (Eljero Elia, 72), Dirk Kuyt, Robin van Persie (Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, 64).

Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa, Jorge Torres Nilo, Hector Moreno, Jonny Magallon, Paul Aguilar (Carlos Vela, 55), Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Pablo Barrera, 46), Andres Guardado (Efrain Juarez, 46), Gerardo Torrado, Israel Castro, Alberto Medina (Giovani Dos Santos, 55), Javier Hernandez.