Robin van Persie, Arsenal’s star striker, scored two goals in the first half to give the Netherlands a 2-1 victory over Mexico in a rainy World Cup warm-up match in Freiburg, Germany, on Wednesday.
Van Persie, who hadn’t seen any action with his national squad in six months, lined up as the sole striker for an under-strength Netherlands squad whose five-man midfield was lead by Rafael van der Vaart and Dirk Kuyt.
From the start, the Orange Machine lived up to their name, putting Mexico on their heels. Two close chances, one from van der Vaart, before the 10th minute were only a prelude of what was to come.
While El Tri were still trying to find their footing on the field, Netherlands strung together some passes and, in the 17th minute, van der Vaart sent a left-footed cross to van Persie, who took advantage of poor marking to strike the ball into the goal guarded by Guillermo Ochoa.
That goal woke up the Mexican midfielders, who began involving themselves in the game more, making the game more of an even affair.
Mexico would eventually create a couple of chances, the two most clear ones coming from Cuauhtémoc Blanco-Alberto Medina connections. Both attempts, however, were snuffed by keeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
The Dutch would strike again before the half. This time, midfielder Ibrahim Afellay sent in an impeccable cross from the right side to van Persie, who volleyed it home for his second goal of the match.
The second half started much like the first, with the Oranje missing a couple of chances and the Mexicans eventually gaining more control in the middle to hold the Netherlands off.
Mexico’s young attacking foursome of Javier Hernández, Carlos Vela, Giovani dos Santos and Pablo Barrera swung things around in El Tri’s favor an hour into the match.
First, Barrera would miss a long-range shot. Six minutes later, Giovani missed a rebound after Vela smashed a ball against Stekelenburg. In the 69th minute, Vela’s shot from near the penalty spot would go wide.
Finally, in the 74th minute, “El Chicharito” Hernández pulled one back for Mexico. Left back Jorge Torres Nilo sent in a cross from the left flank, which Manchester United’s newest signing headed in from close range.
A minute later, in Mexico’s best attempt to equalize, Giovani again tested the Dutch keeper with a bullet from outside the box that Stekelenburg turned away for a corner.
The Oranje would hold on for the victory in the first of the three matches prior to the World Cup. Wednesday’s match, however, was also the last game before Netherlands head coach Bert van Marwijk trims his 27-man roster down to 23.
As for Mexico, this was their second consecutive loss against European teams in their World Cup tune-ups. On Sunday, El Tri will face Gambia, hoping to gain some idea as to the style of play they might see from South Africa when the two nations open the World Cup on June 11.