The Netherlands were held to a 1-1 draw by Slovakia on Thursday night. The friendly in the blistering heat of Trnava, between two sides who just failed to make it to this year’s World Cup, was a game of two different halves.
The hosts dominated the first period, particularly the opening stages, against a lacklustre Oranje side. Slovakia’s attacking game led to the opener after just nine minutes, when man-of-the-match Marek Hamsik delivered a far post cross for Adam Nemec to head in.
The tables were turned in the second half, with a lot more pressure from the guests. This lead to the equaliser on the hour, when the Netherlands cut quickly through the centre to find Quincy Promes, who curled his precision shot into the bottom corner.
“We played a poor first half”, admitted captain Kevin Strootman after the match. “We didn’t produce enough pressure and failed to create sufficient chances. We were much better after the break and we should have won the game, given the number of goal opportunities we had. Slovakia started off very well, but they couldn’t keep up the pace. We had more energy in the second half, and actually, we could have beaten them by a two-goal difference.”
The Dutch skipper was full of praise for Ruud Vormer, the 30-year-old Club Brugge playmaker, who put up a strong debut performance after coming in as a substitution at the start of the second half.
On Monday, Ronald Koeman’s men face Italy, another former European powerhouse that failed to qualify for the World Cup finals in Russia. The match will be played in Turin.