David Platt's reign as head coach of the England Under-21 team or teams, as he used 22 players got off to an impressive start here last night, his eager young beavers supplying a performance to match the result, which became an emphatic one with two goals in the last three minutes. If there was inevitably a slightly fragmented look to a match of 19 substitutions, there were also strong individual showings from Jermaine Defoe, Darius Vassell, Jonathan Greening, Luke Chadwick and John Terry, among others, and some encouraging team-work too.
Vassell put the home side ahead early on and Defoe, West Ham's rare prospect, was involved in the other three goals, the first of them within seconds of replacing the Villa striker soon after the interval.
"There are some quality players there, and some intelligence too," said Platt. "To break into the senior squad is very, very hard but it wouldn't surprise me if one or two do step up."
Before the game, Terry, the Chelsea defender, was named captain despite having been sent off in the final minute of the 3-1 defeat by Greece in June, which proved to be Howard Wilkinson's rather out of tune swan-song. Luke Young, playing at right-back as Platt sensibly employed Eriksson's favoured 4-4-2 system, was also dismissed in that game, and the disciplinary record might well have worsened last night had the referee seen Francis Jeffers swing a punch at Theo Janssen midway through the first half.
Jeffers, Arsenal's most expensive summer recruit, had an otherwise quiet time, unlike his striking partner Vassell, who had clearly benefited from Villa's summer Intertoto Cup campaign. In only the fifth minute he collected the ball 25 yards out, turned cleverly past his marker and sent a fierce drive into the top corner of the net.
Greening then had a goal disallowed for fouling the goalkeeper, Dorus de Vries, who fell awkwardly and had to be taken off.
Having lost Blackburn's David Dunn to an injury, England made a further five substitutions at half-time, but it was their seventh new man who created the greatest impression. Defoe came on for Vassell, who had been heavily fouled, and from the resulting free-kick, taken by Greening, the little striker poached a goal, just as he had done on his debut against Mexico.
The Dutch improved briefly, Arjen Robben's lob landing on the crossbar. But England finished much the stronger; in the last few minutes Defoe sent Malcolm Christie round the goalkeeper for a third goal and finished a well-crafted passing move himself to complete a good first night for Platt.
ENGLAND (4-4-2): Taylor (Arsenal); Young (Charlton), Terry (Chelsea), Barry (Aston Villa), Bridge (Southampton); Greening (Middlesbrough), Dunn (Blackburn), Davis (Fulham), Chadwick (Manchester United); Jeffers (Arsenal), Vassell (Aston Villa). Substitutes: Prutton (Nottingham Forest) for Dunn, 43; Johnson (Derby) for Bridge, h-t; Bramble (Ipswich) for Barry, h-t; Parker (Charlton) for Davis, h-t; Christie (Derby) for Jeffers, h-t; Wright (Liverpool) for Young, h-t; Defoe (West Ham) for Vassell, 48; Riggott (Derby) for Terry, 64; Wilson (Middlesbrough) for Chadwick, 64; Bywater (West Ham) for Taylor, 64; Pennant (Arsenal) for Greening, 68.
NETHERLANDS (3-3-3-1): De Vries (Telstars); Wisgerhof (NAC Breda), Knol (Vitesse Arnhem), Touzani (Utrecht); Schuurman (NAC Breda), Janssen (Vitesse Arnhem), Bosschaart (Utrecht); Van Der Meyde (Ajax), Van Der Gun (Ajax), Zonneveld (NAC Breda); Kuijt (Utrecht). Substitutes: Van Den Ban (Haarlem) for De Vries, 10; Da Silva (Sparta Rotterdam) for Schuurman, h-t; Van Der Vaart (Ajax) for Janssen, h-t; Robben (Groningen) for Van Der Gun, h-t; Kromkamp (AZ 67) for Alkmaar, h-t; Van Dinteren (RKC) for Waalwijk, h-t; Van Nieuwstad (Willem II) for Wisgerhof, 64; Broerse (Groningen) for Bosschaart, 64; Hersi (NAC Breda) for Van der Meyde, 64.
Referee: K Jacobson (Iceland).Reuse content