Van Persie scores twice as rampant Dutch demolish Northern Ireland
Amsterdam: Netherlands concluded their Euro 2012 preparations in emphatic fashion as they made light work of an inexperienced Northern Ireland side in Amsterdam.
The damage was done early on as Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder sent the hosts into two goals clear inside 15 minutes to leave the visitors shell-shocked.
And Michael O’Neill’s men never recovered as Ibrahim Afellay and then Van Persie doubled his tally to send the Oranje four goals to the good at the break.
Changes were made at half-time and the tempo dropped but the Dutch managed to add to their lead through Afellay and Ron Vlaar to ensure the Dutch won by a large margin.
The Northern Irish side, who are under new stewardship in the form of O’Neill, decided to field a inexperienced side against the heavily-fancied Euro 2012 hopefuls and the lack of familiarity showed almost immediately.
The Irish defence were not alert to a short corner by Sneijder, and were soon made to pay. The Inter Milan playmaker played a neat one-two with Mark van Bommel before whipping in a cross into the far post which found the completely unmarked Van Persie to nod in.
And just four minutes later, O’Neill’s woes worsened when Michael Duff gave away a sloppy free-kick in a central area just 25 yards out. Sneijder converted the chance with almost consummate ease and leave Lee Camp grasping at thin air.
The Dutch handed the opportunity to go 3-0 up even before the half-hour mark when Shane Ferguson gave away a penalty after he was adjudged to have used an arm - although replied were inconclusive.
Van Persie stepped up and he made no mistake as he fired it into the bottom left-hand corner, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.
The dominance continued and, although the Dutch were impressive, the Northern Ireland side were doing themselves little favours. Arjen Robben was allowed to pounce on sloppy passing from captain Sammy Clingan.
The Bayern Munich man quickly spotted the impressive Afellay, who was overlapping at pace, and fed the ball for the winger to flash in a shot off the post from 10 yards out.
The visitors made a number of changes at half-time to try and stem the flow of goals, but to little avail.
But six minutes after the break and the Dutch further extended their lead. The front four were seemingly toying with the Northern Irish as the ball made its way out to Robben on the right-hand side and the winger crossed it into Van Persie who, in turn, found Afellay to curl an effort around half-time substitute Roy Carroll.
The punishment continued for the visitors as Feyenoord centre-back Vlaar rose above the crowd from a Dutch corner to thump a header into the back of the net.