Fri, Feb 09, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Dutch down Russia in Amsterdam

AFP , AMSTERDAM

The Netherlands' Kew Jaliens, left, beats Russia's Ivan Saenko to the ball during their international friendly soccer match in the Amsterdam Arena on Wednesday.

PHOTO: AFP

The Netherlands crushed a weakened Russia 4-1 on Wednesday as visiting coach Guus Hiddink endured another miserable day back on home soil.

Just a day after Hiddink, who took Australia to the World Cup last year, was accused of tax evasion, he then found little to cheer on the pitch as the Dutch turned on the style in this friendly international against his Russian side.

But the Netherlands had to wait until late in the match before they were sure of victory after Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfejev pulled off a string of fine saves in the opening period.

"Despite this heavy defeat, I'm happy that the match took place," Hiddink said.

Rhythm

"It was important to get the experience, the rhythm. We didn't have the strength to worry the Dutch," he said. "But my players are clearly short of competition. The Russian championship is in a winter break from November to March and the boys will only return to training in two weeks' time."

The home side took a deserved lead through Ryan Babel who scored with a 20m drive in the 69th minute.

Wesley Sneijder, who had come on as a second half substitute, turned the game and helped himself to the second goal of the night in the 72nd minute with a fine shot from out left.

Penalty

Piotr Bistrov pulled a goal back for Russia in the 77th minute but Joris Mathijsen headed in the Dutch third from a corner from Sneijder in the 81st minute before a Rafael Van der Vaart penalty made it 4-1 in the 89th minute.

It was a pleasing result for Dutch coach Marco Van Basten who was missing 10 players including Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben.

Russia were handicapped by the fact that the long winter off-season meant that most of the squad hadn't played since the end of November.

"The win will be great for morale," van Basten said. "But we have to remember that our opponents suffered physically in the second half. We took risks at the end of the match and that paid off."

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