Bulgaria shock Netherlands 2-1
Amsterdam: Netherlands, one of the main favourites for Euro 2012, stumbled to a shock 2-1 defeat by Bulgaria at the Amsterdam Arena in Saturday`s international friendly.
Robin van Persie gave the Dutch side the lead shortly before the half-time whistle, only for Ivelin Popov to restore parity from the spot in the second half. Iliyan Mitsanski then stunned the home crowd when he netted a dramatic winner well into stoppage time.
The hosts started the match by showing their attacking intentions, and produced their first chance after nine minutes of play. Wesley Sneijder set up Rafael van der Vaart inside the area, but the Spurs star attempted to pick out Klaas-Jan Huntelaar rather than fire a shot towards the Bulgaria goal, and the opportunity dissipated.
Oranje came close to opening the scoring midway through the first half after a corner from Sneijder, but John Heitinga failed to tap home from close range.
Bulgaria then gave the Dutch side a scare in the 44th minute when Valeri Bojinov rattled the crossbar with a well taken free kick from the edge of the box.
But right on the stroke of half-time, Van Persie handed Netherlands the lead after a brilliant pass from Sneijder. The Inter playmaker spotted the forward`s run cutting inside from the right, before chipping the ball over the Bulgarian defence. The Arsenal striker couldn`t miss from 10 yards out as calmly placed his shot past the goalkeeper.
Bulgaria restored parity shortly after the interval. A cross from the right hit the sliding Van der Vaart on his arm, prompting the referee to point to the spot. Ivelin Popov stepped up for the penalty, and beat Tim Krul with a low shot down the middle.
Bert van Marwijk`s men went in search for another goal as young defender Jetro Willems caused the Bulgarian defence countless problems with his runs forward, and in one instance, his superb cross saw Huntelaar flash his header just marginally wide.
The Lions occasionally threatened on the counterattack, and Stanislav Manolev almost made it 2-1 for the away side in the 70th minute. However, his right-footed volley from 20 yards out just missed the target at the far post.
Bulgaria did get their second goal well into stoppage time to complete an upset. Manolev sent in a perfect cross for Mitsanski, who found the net with a precise header from a narrow angle.
Netherlands take on Slovakia on Wednesday as they continue their preparations for Euro 2012. Bulgaria`s next game is the friendly at home against Turkey on May 29.