Robben's double gives Dutch 3-2 win over England

ROB HARRIS AP Sports Writer Published:

WEMBLEY, England (AP) -- Arjen Robben scored in stoppage time to give the Netherlands a 3-2 friendly victory over England on Wednesday, ending a three-match winless run for the 2010 World Cup finalist exactly 100 days before the European Championship.

It was the second goal for Robben, who first put the Dutch in front in the 57th minute after ripping through the defense.

Teammate Klaas-Jan Huntelaar headed in another two minutes later, but had to be replaced after clashing heads with England defender Chris Smalling in the process of scoring.

England staged a late comeback at Wembley Stadium under interim coach Stuart Pearce, with Gary Cahill and Ashley Young scoring twice in the last five minutes.

But Robben produced another classy moment in stoppage time, sending a deflected shot past goalkeeper Joe Hart after being set up by Mark van Bommel.

"Players like Arjen Robben, like we've seen tonight, can change the game," England captain Scott Parker said. "It was a touch of brilliance tonight from Robben."

After the setbacks in October and November, this victory puts Bert van Marwijk's side back on the right track before playing Euro 2012 warmup matches in May ahead of the tournament.

"Before this game we had a bad series, because we lost against Germany 3-0 ... (and) against Sweden and Switzerland we had difficulties," Robben said. "We have a great squad, great potential still, although everybody's getting a year older.

"But we're still at a good age and we go to the Euros to win, no doubt about that. Not with arrogance, but I think if you have a great squad you go to a tournament to win and not to reach the quarterfinals."

That is the furthest England has reached in the last decade at any tournament, going out even earlier at the World Cup two years ago.

And the hosts, who were unbeaten through 2011, had a disappointing start to the uncertain new era following Fabio Capello's resignation earlier this month.

"I think they needed a touch more belief that they could hurt a team of this ability," Pearce said. "I didn't see it as a big night for me. I wasn't auditioning for anything."

Pearce harbors hopes of leading England at Euro 2012 if the Football Association cannot find a full-time successor for Capello before then.

For that reason, the under-21 England coach dropped several experienced players against the Dutch, giving younger players a chance to shine against a European power.

At the start of the match, the English faced nine players who featured in the World Cup final in July 2010, when the Netherlands lost to Spain.

The visitors had the Premier League's top scorer up front -- Arsenal's Robin van Persie -- and left Huntelaar, the leading Bundesliga scorer, on the bench. Meanwhile in England's attack, Danny Welbeck was playing his fourth international and searching for his first goal.

The first half was denied a goal by several decisive interventions by Parker on Van Persie and Wesley Sneijder.

"The first half was not that bad -- we lost against Germany (in November) and didn't want to lose again tonight on the counterattack," Van Marwijk said. "So we played more stable."

The game didn't come to life until Robben's opener. The Bayern Munich winger picked up possession inside his own half, racing forward with the ball before slotting it past Hart on his preferred left foot.

Within two minutes, Huntelaar headed in his 31st goal in 50 internationals, after Dirk Kuyt found the space to cross from the right flank. While Huntelaar limped off after the head clash, however, Smalling had to be carried off on a stretcher.

"At 2-0, we could have fallen apart really," Parker said. "We dug in and we got ourselves back."

Cahill raced onto a pass from Leighton Baines in the 85th and the English looked to have salvaged a draw when Young chipped the ball over goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg after neat linkup play by Theo Walcott and Phil Jones.

"We showed great heart, great courage to get back into the game," Parker said.

Robben, though, had the final say when he curled the ball into the hosts' net.

"It was probably a little bit sloppy on our behalf to let them go and win the game," Parker said. "They're an exceptional team, it's as simple as that ... they've got world-class players in their team."

And they ended England's nine-game unbeaten run since a loss to France in November 2010.



England: Joe Hart, Micah Richards, Leighton Baines, Chris Smalling (Phil Jones, 64), Gary Cahill, Gareth Barry (James Milner, 46), Scott Parker, Adam Johnson (Stewart Downing, 61), Ashley Young, Steven Gerrard (Daniel Sturridge, 33), Danny Welbeck (Fraizer Campbell, 80).

Netherlands: Maarten Stekelenburg, Khalid Boulahrouz (Ron Vlaar, 82), Johnny Heitinga, Joris Mathijsen, Erik Pieters (Stijn Schaars, 46), Mark van Bommel, Dirk Kuyt, Nigel De Jong, Robin Van Persie (Klaas Jan Huntelaar, 46; Luuk De Jong, 62), Wesley Sneijder (Urby Emanuelson, 76), Arjen Robben


AP Sports Writer Caroline Cheese contributed to this report.