Defoe at the double
Wednesday, 12 August, 2009
A second half brace from Jermain Defoe seals a draw with Holland.
Stuart Mawhinney in Amsterdam
England staged a superb second half comeback in Amsterdam to seal a draw with the Netherlands, thanks to a brace from substitute Jermain Defoe.
The Tottenham Hotspur hitman was introduced at the break after England had fallen two goals behind in the first half and he got the Three Lions back up and running within minutes of his arrival, before converting fellow sub James Milner's cross later on to ensure a share of the spoils.
It was no less than England deserved either, with Fabio Capello's men fully deserving their result and even having a chance of winning the game after finishing the game strongly.
Earlier on, England had the pick of the early chances when Wayne Rooney turned superbly with two men guarding him and sent Emile Heskey through, only for the Aston Villa forward to lose out to Edson Braafheid.
Holland began the game in confident mood in front of a packed house in Amsterdam though and they took the lead after eleven minutes with a sloppy piece of play gifting Dirk Kuyt the opener.
Holland's three forwards had been pressing high up the pitch in the early period making playing the ball out difficult, and when Rio Ferdinand played a short backpass cross the area, Kuyt was on hand to make the most of it.
England were shellshocked by the manner of the goal, but responded with a fine move five minutes that saw Frank Lampard and then Rooney go close to an equaliser.
David Beckham played a clever ball on the inside channel into the feet of Glen Johnson and the England right back found Lampard, whose shot was saved by the feet of Stekelenburg.
The rebound cannoned up into the air over the penalty spot and though Rooney showed great appetite to rise highest and meet the ball, his header went narrowly wide and the chance was gone.
Moments later there was a flurry of chances for the visitors. First Ashley Young saw a deflected effort saved, then the Aston Villa winger almost presented a chance for Heskey to head at goal, only for Andre Ooijer to get their first.
Then Gareth Barry turned into space on the edge of the area and hit a fine effort thay sailed narrowly over the bar.
At the other end, Rob Green produced a point blank save with his feet as Kuyt almost notched his second goal with a header at the far post after Rafael van der Vaart delivered a terrific deadball to the back stick, but Green got England out of jail.
Robin Van Persie cranked it up a notch with some excellent skill to create space for himself in the centre circle before hitting a jackhammer inches past the post.
The second goal came from the restart and in truth, it was another gift from England. Arjen Robben seized on a loose pass from Barry and though Green made a superb save to deny the former Chelsea winger, van der Vaart followed up and slotted the ball home.
Holland scented blood but Rooney fired a warning shot from 25 yards out that flew across Stekelenburg's goal but the wrong side of the post.
Capello made three changes at the break and within minutes of the restart one of them got them back into the game as Defoe raced onto Lampard's pass and outfoxed John Mathijsen before guiding the ball in off the near post with his left foot. It was Defoe's fifth goal under Capello, and third in two games after his brace against Andorra in June.
Five minutes later and Defoe went close to a dramatic equaliser having barely been off the bench enough time to get into the rhythym of the game. Johnson and Shaun Wright-Phillips fed Defoe who first shaped to shoot on his right, before shifting onto his left but Heitinga was on the line to hook the shot away.
Carlton Cole, on in place of Rooney, then showed tremendous skill to trap a through ball from Lampard, twist Ooijer inside and out before volleying against the stanchion behind the goal from 20 yards out. Many of the travelling England supporters thought it was a second goal as it crashed back off the advertising hoarding and rippled the net.
With 14 minutes remaining, Defoe grabbed a deserved equaliser after terrific work on the left flank from debutant Milner. Putting his head in the way of flying boots, Milner showed greater desire to burst down the wing before sliding the ball across goal and into the path of the delighted Defoe.
In truth England, buoyed by a vocal travelling contingent, could have won the game with chances for Cole and Defoe to put them in front after that but from a game of real quality, especially at this stage of the season, England will take heart from another promising performance against one of the best teams in the world.