England 1 Holland 2: Three Lions fall to just second defeat since World Cup
England fell to just their second defeat since the World Cup as Roy Hodgson's men lost to a Holland side not even good enough to reach Euro 2016.
Impressive progress has been made since the Three Lions’ embarrassing exit in Brazil, including reaching this summer’s finals with a 100 per cent record.
However, there was little of the intensity, drive and quality seen in Saturday’s remarkable comeback win in Germany as Holland themselves came from behind to win 2-1 at Wembley.
It was a reality check after back-to-back wins over Euro 2016 favourites France and Germany, although Jamie Vardy again impressed and followed up his wonderful flick at the Olympiastadion by finishing a lovely team move.
The in-form Leicester striker looks a shoo-in for the squad named on May 12, when Hodgson faces some difficult decisions.
England boast impressive strength in depth up front but look susceptible at the back, with John Stones’ recent poor form compounded by a slip that needed Fraser Forster to come to the rescue.
However, Danny Rose was adjudged to have handled as the move continued and Vincent Janssen scored from the spot, before controversially overpowering substitute Phil Jagielka and crossing for Luciano Narsingh to net the winner.
Hodgson’s anger at the goal was as clear as the players’, but the England manager will no doubt focus on positives such as Vardy’s display and a solid debut from Leicester team-mate Danny Drinkwater.
The midfielder’s inclusion was one of eight changes and that appeared to impact the defensive coherence, with Rose fortunate not to concede an early penalty on his second England appearance.
The Tottenham full-back got off with the challenge on Joel Veltman and the hosts attempted to capitalise, with Vardy closed out before he could direct goalwards.
Focus soon turned to the big screens at Wembley where the late Johan Cruyff’s image was met by a standing ovation in the 14th minute, having earlier been remembered in a minute’s silence that also paid tribute to those caught in the Brussels terror attacks.
The fitting tribute took attention away from the football, with England struggling to find their rhythm and Holland looking most likely to strike the first blow.
Georginio Wijnaldum, one of four Premier League players in the visitors’ starting line-up, came closest in the first half for the Dutch, hitting a fine curling strike that was met by a decent Fraser Forster save.
A subdued atmosphere was lifted when Vardy and Daniel Sturridge had efforts following good work down the left by Rose, while Stones had an effort hacked clear.
England were increasing the tempo and, shortly after Ross Barkley went close from the edge of the box, came a great opener.
Adam Lallana collected the ball after Sturridge’s dummy and turned brilliantly. The Liverpool attacking midfielder then showed great vision to play through the overlapping Kyle Walker, whose squared ball was powered home by Vardy.
It was a lovely team goal and one that gave England a half-time lead they tried to build on after the break.
Sturridge, making his first England appearance in a year and a half, forced Jeroen Zoet into action, with Lallana then curling wide after an impressive run forwards by Barkley.
That inability to net was soon punished, though.
Stones’ slip would have resulted in a goal had Forster not impressively denied Janssen, only for a penalty to be awarded seconds later after Rose handled Narsingh’s cross.
Janssen stepped up for the penalty and this time would not be denied, sending the Southampton goalkeeper the wrong way.
Forster did manage to stop the deflected Riechedly Bazoer shot that shortly followed, before Vardy threatened again with a beautiful 25-yard drive that Zoet did well to save.
Theo Walcott was denied by Daley Blind after being found by a fine pass from Stones, with the Arsenal forward darting down the right and firing over soon after.
Danny Blind’s side capitalised in the 77th minute, albeit in controversial fashion.
Janssen barged over substitute Jagielka and the officials waved played on, with the striker cutting back for Narsingh to slot home.
The anger was palpable as the players harangued the referee following what proved the decisive blow, with Harry Kane coming closest to levelling.