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Friday March 2, 2012England 2 - 3 Holland

By Rhonda Richards | In England

England lost out 3-2 to Holland in a friendly at Wembley overseen by caretaker manager Stuart Pearce, with Micah starting his first game for the Three Lions for four years.

With three games to go until the start of the European Championships, Pearce took the opportunity to test out the squad, with Micah coming back in at right back.

Leighton Baines, who lined up on the left flank, saw his wayward cross threaten to fly straight in with a minute on the clock, whilst Gary Cahill went close with a glancing header from Ashley Young’s corner moments later.

England were keeping a rigid shape as they tried to stifle the flair of their opponents, newly installed captain Scott Parker throwing himself around and doing well to block a dangerous looking Wesley Sneijder effort. Robben followed it up with a left-footed shot that called on a fine save by Joe Hart, whilst Adam Johnson went close after a mazy run at the other end.

Micah, too, was preoccupied by the threat of Robben to venture too far forward, though he pick-pocketed the winger and burst forward only to be brought down cynically by Mark Van Bommel. Soon after, a charge by Micah down the right saw him cut back inside and lay off to Young via Gareth Barry, and while the former was brought down, the referee waved away calls for a penalty.

Both teams were struggling to carve out any clear-cut chances, and it remained goalless at the interval, whilst minute after the restart Micah was booked for a stern challenge on Robben.

Few could be blamed for predicting a stalemate, but they were to be pleasantly surprised by a quick-fire flurry of five goals, the first two of which went Holland’s way. Picking the ball up in his own half, Robben raced through and darted diagonally across England’s defence before slotting low beyond Hart to make it 1-0.

With the hosts still reeling, Holland grabbed a second straight away. Dirk Kuyt whipped in a cross and substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar connected powerfully with the ball to head home and make it 2-0, though he and Chris Smalling suffered a sickening clash of heads which forced both players off in the aftermath.

The home side looked down and out, but they weren’t giving up, and they fought their way back into the game commendably. Stewart Downing first went close after his introduction with a left-footed volley that flew just yards wide, whilst Daniel Sturridge should have done better with a shot from four yards out.

However, Pearce’s men found a way through courtesy of an unlikely source in Cahill. The Chelsea defender found himself in a striker’s position as he collected a pass, beat his defender and slotted home to make it 2-1.

And it was to get better for Pearce and his side as Young found a leveller, breaking through and chipping home superbly to make it 2-2 as the game entered injury time.

It appeared that England were heading for a well earned draw, but Robben had other ideas. Collecting the ball on the right of England’s penalty area, he stood Leighton Baines up before curling home with the help of a deflection to make it 3-2 and secure the win for the away side.

Pearce will have been pleased with his side’s determination to get themselves back in the game, though as many questions will have been posed as answers as the Three Lions move towards the unveiling of their European Championship squad.

England: Hart, Richards, Cahill, Smalling, Baines, Gerrard, Barry, Parker, Young, Welbeck, Johnson. Subs: Green, Cole, Jones, Lescott, Milner, Walcott, Downing, Campbell, Sturridge, Carson.

Holland: Stekelenburg, Boulahrouz, Heitinga, Mathijsen, Pieters, Robben, Van Bommel, N De Jong, Sneijder, Kuyt, Van Persie. Subs: Vlaar, Emanuelson, Strootman, Schaars, Krul, Huntelaar, Wijnaldum, L De Jong, Bruma, John, Narsingh.