Fri, Jun 01, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Netherlands do minimum in 2-0 victory over Slovakia

AFP, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Ibrahim Afellay of the Netherlands shoots against Slovakia in their international friendly in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on Wednesday.

Photo: Reuters

The Netherlands, the 1988 champions, did the minimum on Wednesday as they warmed up for their Euro 2012 campaign with a 2-0 home friendly tuneup against Slovakia.

A seventh-minute own-goal from Kornel Salata set the hosts on their way and a Rafael van der Vaart effort 15 minutes from time clinched a routine success in Rotterdam.

Coach Bert van Marwijk had tried various permutations in recent narrow defeats both to Bayern Munich and then Bulgaria at the weekend in Amsterdam, but this time he sent out more or less the team he expects to field when the tournament gets under way next week in Poland and Ukraine.

Van Marwijk fielded wide men in Ibrahim Afellay and Arjen Robben, with Robin van Persie as the lone spearhead to begin with in preference to Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, but the performance was somewhat labored, despite the early gift of a goal.

“We still lack speed and fluidly down the flanks,” Van Marwijk said. “It was better this evening compared with our two previous games, but we could still do better.”

“Preparations aren’t easy,” he said. “I’ve only been working with a full squad since Monday. I’m very happy with the return of Ibrahim Afellay. Everyone knows what I think of this player. He played very well. He provoked actions, he took risks.”

On the debit side, midfielder Wesley Sneijder had to go off with an ankle injury six minutes into the second half, giving way to Van der Vaart.

“Sneijder injured his [left] ankle,” Van Marwijk said. “We’ll know more tomorrow on the real nature of this injury. I hope that it’s not too serious because Wesley has been playing at a high level. I found him very in form during training. As for Joris Mathijsen [thigh injury], I think he has a good chance of playing the first match.”

Afellay, whose season was curtailed with knee trouble, gave a good account of himself and was involved in the buildup to the opening goal.

The Netherlands have been drawn in Group B at Euro 2012 with Germany, Portugal and Denmark.

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