Magical Robben dazzles England

England 2 Netherlands 3

After a haphazard build-up, a crazy game was settled in Holland's favour by a moment of magic from Arjen Robben to leave England in an even more confused state than they had been before.

Two down after an hour following goals by Robben and Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Harry Redknapp must have been sat at home wondering whether he really wanted the "impossible job".

By the time England had rallied manfully in the final five minutes and dragged themselves level through Gary Cahill and Ashley Young, interim boss Stuart Pearce had claims on being Fabio Capello's replacement for Euro 2012.

Robben's brilliant response - his second superb goal of the evening - gave the hosts a reality check. But after the madness, now the Football Association must get to work and sort out who will lead England into the summer, and whether Scott Parker gets to keep the captain's armband.

The stability Holland brought to Wembley, starting with nine of the team that began the World Cup final, under the same coach, Bert van Marwijk, contrasted sharply with the upheaval England have endured.

Coach and captain were making their debuts in the role - neither secure of the status beyond tonight - while Leighton Baines was among the four players to keep their spots from the November win over Sweden, with Ashley Cole on the bench.

On his first England start since November 2007, Micah Richards tempered his normal attacking instincts, yet when he did get forward, the combination with Manchester City team-mate Adam Johnson was quite rewarding.

Johnson had a goalbound shot deflected wide by John Heitinga, then released Richards, whose pass to Young led to calls for a penalty when the Manchester United man half went down under Heitinga's tackle.

Yet all too quickly, Pearce had to rip up his game plan as Steven Gerrard ambled off, as a precaution it was claimed, after feeling a niggle in his hamstring. A worrying end to an unsatisfactory day all round for the man so many expected would get the job Parker was given.

Daniel Sturridge's introduction meant Johnson had to swap sides, which rather curtailed his involvement.

The new boy did well, though. Sturridge was the source of England's first shot on target after the break, when his strike flew through a packed area and was beaten away by Maarten Stekelenburg.

Holland had managed one in the opening period, from the boot of Robben, which Joe Hart was equal to.

There was also the rare sight of Robin van Persie failing to snaffle a decent chance, the Arsenal man - who shrugged off worries about a groin injury to play - scooping over from 12 yards.

Amidst it all, Parker scurried and cajoled, making his tackles, putting his body on the line and leading from the front, just as Pearce wanted.

At one point the Tottenham midfielder was the meat in a touchline sandwich with Nigel de Jong and Dirk Kuyt, and then landed on a camera stand.

England had reason to be quite pleased with themselves, but that changed in the space of two minutes just before the hour.

Sturridge conceded possession to Robben inside his own half, failed to track back properly, then watched as the former Chelsea winger scorched to the other end of the field and exploited a momentary misunderstanding between Smalling and Cahill before drilling a precise shot past Hart.

Holland scored again on their next attack as Huntelaar got the better of Smalling to nod home Kuyt's cross.

The awful consequence of that goal was a sickening clash of heads between Huntelaar and Smalling, which ended the involvement of both in the game.

Huntelaar was so groggy that initially he still had the clump of grass in his mouth that got lodged there when he landed.

At least he was able to walk off, though. Smalling departed on a stretcher, although he was conscious.

Sturridge wasted England's best chance when he anticipated Baines' misdirected shot but then tamely turned the ball to Stekelenburg.

Cahill showed him how it should be done five minutes from time when he collected Baines' through ball and finished neatly.

It was the prelude to a mad finish as England seemed to have secured a draw in stoppage time when Phil Jones rolled a brilliant through ball to Young, who clipped home, only for Robben's second moment of class to give the visitors victory.

Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss