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Page last updated at 23:03 GMT, Saturday, 28 March 2009

Netherlands 3-0 Scotland

Scotland failed to threaten the Dutch
Scotland were no match for the impressive home side

By Colin Moffat

Netherlands opened up a commanding lead in World Cup qualifying Group 9 after a comfortable win over Scotland.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Robin van Persie were both on target with free headers in the first half.

Gary Caldwell had a headed effort harshly disallowed before Dirk Kuyt added a penalty when Christophe Berra was adjudged to have tripped Huntelaar.

Kenny Miller squandered a great early chance for Scotland, who now trail the Dutch by eight points after four games.

The Dutch are ranked the third best team in the world, but the star-studded home line-up barely needed to break sweat as the Scots contributed hugely to their own downfall.

Burley bemused by disallowed goal

There was no shortage of endeavour from the visitors, but all three goals came from lapses of concentration at the back.

Defender Berra, making his first international start, looked overwhelmed by the occasion, while the midfield trio of Barry Ferguson, Scott Brown and Darren Fletcher struggled to impose themselves.

The outcome could have been different had Miller converted the game's first good opening, when he raced on to a long ball over the top.

However, the Rangers forward took far too long to compose himself and was caught by a lunging tackle from Joris Mathijsen on the edge of the six-yard box before getting a shot away.

The pace and trickery of Real Madrid winger Arjen Robben caused problems for the visitors, but the rest of his Dutch team-mates made a rather laboured start to the match.

It was therefore disappointing when Scotland fell behind to a soft goal on 30 minutes.

Huntelaar was unopposed as he stooped to steer home a simple lofted cross from Mark van Bommel, who was under no pressure some 30 yards out.

From that point on the Dutch grew in confidence and George Burley's men saw little of the ball for the remainder of the match.


The Scots were punished for more slack defending in the final seconds of the first period as Van Persie raced on to powerfully head in a corner from Robben.

Kuyt screwed a low shot narrowly wide of the flailing McGregor's post after the interval.

McGregor, making his first competitive start for Scotland, then did well to get behind a clever, curling strike from the impressive Robben.

The Real Madrid star should have claimed a goal on 68 minutes but made a mess of his angled shot from close range after a flick on from Huntelaar, allowing Caldwell to scoop the ball awkwardly over his own crossbar.

Celtic defender Caldwell looked to have thrown Scotland an unlikely lifeline when he powered home a header from a Ross McCormack free-kick, but referee Laurent Duhamel ruled that Gary Teale had been impeding keeper Maarten Stekelenburg when there was little contact.

McCormack remains positive after defeat

Soon after, the French official, who is currently suspended by his home federation, further enraged the visiting fans when he awarded a penalty for Berra's trip on Huntelaar.

Liverpool forward Kuyt coolly rolled the ball in from the spot, with McGregor diving the wrong way.

The Scots, who have slipped to third in the qualifying section on goal difference, must now regroup and aim for maximum points against second-placed Iceland at Hampden on Wednesday.

Netherlands: Stekelenburg, Van Der Wiel, Mathijsen, Ooijer, Van Bronckhorst, Kuyt, Van Bommel, De Jong (Schaars 80), Robben, Huntelaar (Afellay 80), Van Persie (Sneijder 65). Subs Not Used: Timmer, Boulahrouz, Braafheid, Van der Vaart.

Booked: De Jong, Huntelaar.

Goals: Huntelaar 30, Van Persie 45, Kuyt 78 pen.

Scotland: McGregor, Alexander (Hutton 73), Berra, Caldwell, Naysmith, Brown, Darren Fletcher, Ferguson, McCormack, Teale (Morrison 85), Miller (Steven Fletcher 71). Subs Not Used: Gordon, Barr, Iwelumo, Rae.

Att: 49,552.

Ref: Laurent Duhamel (France).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Netherlands' Robin van Persie (8.14 on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Burley fumes at Dutch decisions
28 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Courage not enough to trouble Dutch
28 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Saturday's football photos
28 Mar 09 |  Football
International football as it happened
28 Mar 09 |  Internationals

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