France clip Netherlands
France recovered from a Dutch rally to beat the Netherlands 3-2 yesterday, showing flashes of the attacking flair that will make them serious contenders at the European Championship they will host later this year.
The Dutch showed second-half spirit in the international friendly but also the defensive frailties that saw them fail to qualify for the tournament.
The Netherlands recovered from a two-goal deficit before France captain Blaise Matuidi slotted in the winner in the 88th minute, two minutes after substitute Ibrahim Afellay had levelled the scores.
The emotionally charged match at Amsterdam Arena was preceded by a minute's silence for victims of the Brussels bombings. The game was also halted in the 14th minute to pay tribute to Johan Cruyff with a minute's applause a day after the Ajax and Barcelona great lost his battle with lung cancer at age 68. Cruyff wore No. 14 for Ajax, the club where he launched his career.
The moving tribute to the Netherlands' greatest player came just after Olivier Giroud had pounced on the ball from a corner and fired into the corner to put the French 2-0 up.
Conceding early goals was a recurring problem in the failed Dutch qualification campaign for Euro 2016 and the curse struck again at the Amsterdam Arena.
Antoine Griezmann gave France the lead in just the sixth minute, firing in a free kick after the hapless Dutch defence had failed to clear the ball following a dangerous shot by Dimitri Payet.