LONDON, March 29 – Substitute Luciano Narsingh’s contested 77th-minute winner brought England back down to earth as the Netherlands came from behind to claim a 2-1 victory in Tuesday’s friendly at Wembley.
England were looking to build on Saturday’s fine 3-2 victory over world champions Germany and went ahead late in the first half when Jamie Vardy completed a neat move to score his second goal in two games.
But Vincent Janssen equalised from the spot in the 50th minute and then teed up Narsingh for what proved to be the winner, despite appearing to barge England substitute Phil Jagielka to the ground in the process.
It was England’s final game before manager Roy Hodgson names his squad for Euro 2016 on May 12 and although he named a much-changed side, the defeat will dampen some of the euphoria sparked by the win in Berlin.
Danny Blind’s Netherlands have not qualified for the Euros, but their second-half display saw them extend their unbeaten run against England to seven matches.
England’s stirring win over Germany had fired their fans’ imaginations, but a team showing eight changes made a ponderous start on a cold, drizzly evening in west London.
Visiting right-back Joel Veltman might have won an early penalty following a late challenge by Danny Rose, while England goalkeeper Fraser Forster was tested by Ibrahim Afellay and Georginio Wijnaldum.
Holland’s players were sporting the number 14 on their chests in memory of late Dutch great Johan Cruyff, in a nod to his iconic shirt number, and the stadium rose to applaud in unison when the former Ajax and Barcelona star’s face was shown on the big screens in the 14th minute.
The mood otherwise was somnolent, but as the half progressed England — for whom Leicester City midfielder Danny Drinkwater made his debut — began to land cuffing blows.
– Stones slips –
Vardy slashed over following a one-two with Rose, while Daniel Sturridge, making his first start in 18 months, and John Stones had shots blocked and Ross Barkley drilled narrowly wide from 20 yards.
After Holland’s Quincy Promes had limped off, to be replaced by Narsingh, England went ahead in stylish fashion, Adam Lallana feeding Kyle Walker to cross for Vardy to knock in his second international goal.
Sturridge and Lallana both threatened early in the second half — the former testing Jeroen Zoet at his near post, the latter curling wide — but within five minutes of the restart, the visitors were level.
Stones’s calamitous slip let in Janssen and although Forster produced a one-handed save to thwart him, the AZ Alkmaar striker prevailed at the second attempt with a penalty after Narsingh’s cross from the right struck Rose’s dangling right hand.
England looked to reassert their advantage, Zoet acrobatically repelling Vardy’s long-range strike and Theo Walcott, a replacement for Sturridge, seeing a shot blocked by Daley Blind before driving over the bar.
Further attacking reinforcement arrived in the shape of Harry Kane, who replaced Lallana, but it was the Netherlands who struck again.
Jagielka looked to have been fouled by Janssen as the pair contested a ball inside the England box, but referee Antonio Miguel Mateu allowed play to continue and the Dutch number nine crossed for Narsingh to slam home.
The stadium was silenced and the closest England came to raising the volume was a left-foot effort from Kane that flashed a fraction wide.