The first half produced little except for an Arjen Robben effort shut down by Joe Hart and Adam Johnson’s slanted drive that missed goal. Stevie Gerrard had to exit with a hamstring pull with Daniel Sturridge replacing him. There was little inkling to what lay in store in the second half.
Gareth Barry was taken off and James Milner came on. The Netherlands opened their account with Robben driving through midfield as Klaas Jan Huntelaar coming in for RVP drew away Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill allowing the Bayern Munich man to change direction and drive the ball with his left foot. A minute later, Huntelaar fed Kuyt on the right flank and when the Liverpool’s cross came curling in he elevated to get his header, a fantastic effort, onto goal.
In doing so, he paid a price clashing heads with Chris Smalling. Both went down in a heap and were down for a while. Huntelaar suffered a broken nose, two teeth missing, and a concussion. Smalling was taken to the hospital for a head wound and received stitches. The Dutch noticeably took their foot off the accelerator after that 2-0 lead.
England missed a golden chance minutes later when Sturridge managed to corral Baines’s mishit but scuffed it straight to Stekelenberg. However, Gary Cahill showing some serious striker chops latched onto a Leighton Baines through ball with aplomb, drew back, and sent the ball under Maarten Stekelenberg. In stoppage time in an exchange of passes Phil Jones played the ball back to Ashley Young who smartly lifted the ball over Stekelenberg to equalize. But the Dutch switching back on in characteristic fashion managed to score the winner as Robben brought off another lethal left footed finish to win with a minute to spare.
The Dutch were like Roger Federer upping their game at will just when they looked in trouble. England played well but there was always this feeling they were allowed back in. This was a bit costly too as Gerrard, Smalling, and Sturridge also received injuries that will not make their respective club managers too happy.
Stuart Pearce was competing with a very good Netherlands side using a makeshift, transitioning team. All things considered he acquitted himself pretty decently.