Spain pay for slow start

A shocking start from Spain at Amsterdam ArenA ultimately cost them as they were defeated 2-0 by a resurgent Netherlands in friendly action on Tuesday.

Juanmi – a late replacement for the unfit Diego Costa – was rewarded for his fine form since the turn of the year by being named La Roja's No 9 against the Oranje.

Elsewhere, Vicente del Bosque rang a number of changes from last Friday’s 1-0 victory over Ukraine in Euro 2016 qualifying, with David de Gea, Dani Carvajal, Raul Albiol, Juan Bernat, Mario Suarez and Pedro Rodriguez among those introduced.

However, Premier League duo Cesc Fabregas and Santi Cazorla were arguably the biggest newcomers, the Chelsea midfielder claiming earlier this week that he wanted a chance to prove he could still be a talisman for Spain.

Both countries found themselves under pressure to perform after disappointing recent performances, although it was Netherlands boss Guus Hiddink – appointed only last summer – who reportedly had the most to lose.

Their last meeting resulted in an emphatic 5-1 win for the Dutch in the first match of the group stage at the 2014 World Cup, an outcome La Roja were keen to avoid repeating.

However, they looked lethargic in the opening stages, with their interchangeable attacking set-up seemingly devoid of any chemistry, in stark contrast to Netherlands’ explosive wing play, aided by Wesley Sneijder pulling the strings through the middle.

The hosts consequently found the opening goal after just 13 minutes, when the Galatasaray playmaker’s cross was powered home by the head of Stefan De Vrij, the Lazio defender beating both Albiol and Gerard Pique in the air.

The Dutch then doubled their advantage just moments later as Davy Klaassen smashed a finish into the roof of the Spain net, capitalising on good work from Memphis Depay to his left.

The restart proved more of a passive affair, with Netherlands happily easing off and defending deeply, despite David Silva and Alvaro Morata both combining to inject some much-needed urgency into La Roja’s play.

Nonetheless, it was the Oranje who would have the best of the second-half chances, Depay – impressive throughout the encounter – slamming a low drive at De Gea’s palms, before Bruno Martins Indi somehow put a free header over the Manchester United goalkeeper’s bar.

Spain return to on-pitch matters in June, when they travel to Belarus for their next Euro 2016 qualifier, but they will likely face plenty of criticism back home until then.

Netherlands 2-0 Spain

De Vrij 13, Klaassen 16

Netherlands: Vermeer; Janmaat, De Vrij, Martins Indi, Willems; Sneijder (Wijnaldum 62), Klaassen, Blind (De Guzman 73); Narsingh, Huntelaar (Dost 79), Depay (Afellay 85)

Spain: De Gea; Carvajal, Albiol, Pique (Ramos 69), Bernat; Cesc, Mario (San Jose 69), Isco (Silva 46); Cazorla (Iniesta 76), Juanmi (Morata 62) Pedro (Vitolo 46)

Referee: Collum [SCO]

Tags friendly Holland Netherlands Oranje Spain