Robben, Lens score as Dutch blank Wales 2-0
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — The World Cup-bound Netherlands beat Wales 2-0 yesterday, thanks to goals from Arjen Robben and Jeremain Lens, a flattering result in the team's final warm-up before heading to Brazil.
Despite the win, it was a far from convincing performance by a Dutch team apparently still struggling to come to terms with the new system coach Louis van Gaal wants to play in Brazil.
Van Gaal has said he wants to play a 5-3-2 system, but yesterday he sent a 4-4-2 formation onto the Amsterdam Arena pitch.
The Netherlands dominated possession, but could only carve out a handful of clear-cut chances against a team ranked 47th in the world that did not qualify for the World Cup.
"It wasn't spectacular," Robben said.
"We have to do much better in possession," he added. "We are making wrong choices too often and are finding it difficult to reach the free man up front."
The experienced strike force of Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie and Robben again showed its value to the Dutch, combining to open up the Welsh defence for the first goal.
Sneijder played a ball over the Wales backline to Van Persie whose powerful shot from a tight angle deflected off goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey to Robben, who fired home the rebound from close range.
Sneijder again teamed up with Robben for the second goal, winning the ball and setting the Bayern Munich winger free with a quick pass. Robben then looked up and crossed to substitute Lens who only had to tap in at the far post.
Lens was a half-time replacement for Van Persie, who was taken off as a precaution with a slight groin strain, Dutch television reported.
Wales were without their two biggest stars, Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale and Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey. Bale has a leg muscle injury and Ramsey is being rested after a tough, injury-hit season.
But the team came close to equalising in the 67th minute when substitute Jermaine Easter ran onto a long throw-in but saw his shot blocked by Jasper Cillessen in the Dutch goal.
Netherlands will open their Brazil 2014 campaign against Spain, a repeat of the disappointing 2010 final in Johannesburg, on June 13.
The Dutch also play Australia and Chile in Group B.