Australia down Dutch in Eindhoven
Australia will go into its opening match of the 2010 World Cup Qualifying - Round 4 against Uzbekistan next Thursday morning (AEST) in a confident frame of mind, after defeating the Netherlands 2-1 in Eindhoven this morning.
Australia defeated the Netherlands in an international friendly this morning (Australian time), 2-1, with goals to Harry Kewell and Josh Kennedy.
The Socceroos were forced to come from behind after conceding an early opening goal from Dutch striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar.
A penalty from Kewell right on the stroke of half time had the teams level at the break and Kennedy's headed winner came with just less than 15 minutes remaining.
Socceroos coach, Pim Verbeek, played down the result against the fourth ranked team in world football, emphasising that it is a "friendly match only".
Verbeek said the players did well but said he is focussed on Wednesday's 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Uzbekistan in Tashkent.
"I am focussed on Wednesday's match which will be very different.
"Different circumstances, different field and a World Cup qualifier."
The match, just the second meeting between the two teams at senior level, got off to a similar start to the last meeting in 2006, when the Dutch scored early. In their meaningful attack, a long ball was played down the left for Ryan Babel, who did well to get his cross over from the by-line. Huntelaar, who checked his run into the box, was in perfect position and clinically finished from 10 yards, past the outstretched leg of Lucas Neill and the despairing dive of Mark Schwarzer.
However Australia showed they were not about to be overawed by the situation, with PSV Eindhoven midfielder Jason Culina, going just wide with a diving header from Brett Emerton's cross.
Schwarzer had little to do in the first half, but did have to save at the feet of John Heitinga after 20 minutes, after he was played into the penalty box from a quick free kick.
Australia though was pressing well, with Brett Holman and Emerton lively going forward and it was Holman, racing onto a deft header, who probably should have equalised in the 37th minute. But Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenberg, came off his line and deflected Holman's shot away for a corner.
From the corner, Neill hit a low shot wide, while five minutes later Kennedy headed over the bar, as Australia kept pressing.
Their reward came a minute later, when a poor back pass by Heitinga, saw Kennedy and Stekenlenberg contest for the ball, with the Dutch keeper clipping Kennedy just inside the penalty area.
In a double whammy for the Dutch, not only was it a penalty to Australia, but English referee, Martin Atkinson, dismissed Stekelenberg. Kewell made no mistake with a powerful strike past replacement keeper Henk Timmer.
With the Dutch down to ten men, Verbeek was taking no chances and took Kewell and Emerton off at the break with Mark Bresciano and Mile Sterjovski coming on.
With the Dutch sitting deep and Australia waiting patiently for their chance, openings were few and far between.
Schwarzer was forced to save a Rafael van der Vaart free kick on the hour, while Kennedy had a half chance on 69 minutes, when he shot tamely at Timmer, with Sterjovski unfortunately free at the back post and set to score if the ball came his way.
Australia's patience was rewarded when Luke Wilkshire supplied a terrific cross to Kennedy, who beautifully guided his header past Timmer; his fourth goal in just his eighth appearance for the Socceroos.
As expected the Dutch came back strongly with substitute Jan Vennegor of Hesselink almost scoring with his first touch; heading wide a free kick, while Schwarzer denied Dirk Kuyt a last gasp equaliser with a brave save from close range.
The Socceroos travel to Tashkent on Sunday (local time) for their World Cup qualifier against Uzbekistan and will go into the game with a great deal of confidence.
The match between Uzbekistan and Australia will be shown live and exclusive on FOX Sports from 1.30am on Thursday 11 September.
Netherlands 1 (Klaas Jan Huntelaar 6') Australia 2 (Harry Kewell 45-(pen), Josh Kennedy 76-)
Saturday 6 September 2008 Philips Stadion, Eindhoven, Netherlands Referee: Mr Martin Atkinson (England) Assistant Referees: Mr Philip Sharp (England) & Mr Muhammed Matadar (England) Fourth Official: Mr Tom van Sichem ( Netherlands)
Netherlands line-up: 1.Maarten Stekelenberg (gk), 2. John Heitinga, 3. Andre Ooijer, 4.Joris Mathijsen, 5.Giovanni van Bronckhorst (c), 6. Mark van Bommel, 7.Robin van Persie (14. Dirk Kuyt 46-), 8.Nigel de Jong, 9.Klaas Jan Huntelaar (16. Henk Timmer (gk) 44-), 10.Rafael van der Vaart (17. Ibrahim Afellay 70-), 11.Ryan Babel (18.Jan Vennegor of Hesselink 82-)
Substitutes Not Used: 12.Demy de Zeeuw, 15.Tim de Cler, 19.Khalid Boulahrouz
Yellow Cards: nil
Red Cards: Maarten Stekelenberg 44-
Australia line-up: 1.Mark Schwarzer (gk), 2.Lucas Neill (c), 5.Jason Culina (17.Jacob Burns 78-), 7.Brett Emerton (21.Mile Sterjovski 46-), 8.Luke Wilkshire, 9.Joshua Kennedy (20.Richard Garcia 78-),10.Harry Kewell (23.Mark Bresciano 46-), 11.David Carney, 13.Chris Coyne (6.Michael Beauchamp 70-), 14.Carl Valeri, 16.Brett Holman (15.Bruce Djite 70-),
Substitutes Not Used: 3.Scott Chipperfield, 4.Jade North, 12.Jason Petkovic (gk), 24.Shan Steffanuto.
Yellow Cards: nil
Red Cards: Nil