Dutch edge level in Group A
Wednesday, 21 July, 2010
Young Lions lose, but semi-final spot still to be decided on Saturday.
Nicholas Veevers in Bayeaux
England remain in with a chance of reaching the semi-final of the European Championship Finals, despite a narrow reverse at the hands of Holland on Wednesday night.
In what was a largely close game, England were made to pay for a slow start in which Dutch striker Steven Berghuis headed an early winner to bring the Dutch level on points in Group A.
After that, England were more than equal to their opponents and will feel they were harshly denied what looked a valid equaliser from Nathan Delfouneso in the second half.
It wasn’t to be though, and Noel Blake’s side will now go into their third and final group game with hosts France on Saturday knowing that the right result, ideally a win, will be enough to see them in the last four.
Holland got the game kicked off and made the perfect start to proceedings, enjoying the majority of the possession before taking the lead in the sixth minute.
Jerson Cabral had already caused one or two problems for Nathaniel Clyne on the right wing in the early stages and when he cut inside to cross, Berghuis leapt highest to send a fine header past Declan Rudd.
It could’ve been worse in the 13th minute, when Luc Castaignos struck a half volley from the left hand side of the area which was destined for the top corner until Rudd made a fine save at his near post.
England began to find their feet after that and the first real chance came after 20 minutes when Jacob Mellis broke onto a pass down the left. He squared a pass into the box for Dean Parrett and when the ball was scrambled back, skipper Matthew James was there to shoot at goal but unfortunately for England it went just wide of the target.
They came even closer six minutes later, when Parrett’s free-kick from the left caused all-sorts of trouble for Dutch goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet and when Steven Caulker beat him to a header, Delfouneso’s shot was cleared off the line by Bruno Martins Indi.
The Dutch had the ball in the net again ten minutes before the break when Castaignos slotted home from close range, but he was well offside and the assistant’s flag was rightly raised.
Into the second half and England had a good opportunity to draw level just three minutes after the re-start, when Mellis’ corner from the right picked out Caulker at the far post but he headed powerfully over the bar.
England then thought they were well and truly back in it just after the hour mark. The move started when Nathan Baker won a strong challenge on the left hand side before switching the play. Clyne fed Parrett on the right and his centre picked out Delfouneso in the box. The striker held off a challenge, swivelled and poked the ball past Zoet. It looked a goal all the way, but the assistant’s flag was raised and the goal was ruled out, for an apparent handball against the England man. Harsh indeed.
The Young Lions were now in the ascendancy and had an even better opportunity after 74 minutes, when substitute Ryan Noble did superbly to control and skip around Ricardo van Rhijn in a tight space on the left before playing the ball back into the danger zone. Caulker was arriving at pace in support but he just couldn’t connect and the chance went begging.
England threw men forward in the hunt for an equaliser in the dying stages, but Holland held firm to guarantee an interesting end to the group stages of the tournament.