Joy of six for classy Dutch

Northern Ireland were totally outclassed as Holland completed their preparations for Euro 2012 with a 6-0 romp at a sold-out Amsterdam ArenA.

Last Updated: 02/06/12 at 21:14 Post Comment

Afellay: Celebrates with fellow scorer Van Persie

Afellay: Celebrates with fellow scorer Van Persie

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The inexperienced visitors were prisoners in their own half from start to finish as a full-strength Oranje raced into a 4-0 half-time lead, with Arsenal's Robin van Persie (two), Wesley Sneijder and Ibrahim Afellay all on target.

Afellay made it five in the 51st minute before defender Ron Vlaar completed the scoring.

Michael O'Neill, without the vast majority of his first-choice team for the match, has now lost both of his games in charge with a combined tally of nine conceded and none scored.

The starting XIs gave a heavy hint of what was to come, with Northern Ireland's attack spearheaded by Will Grigg - a debutant who plies his trade at Walsall - and Holland's by the imperious Van Persie.

The gulf in class was mirrored across the pitch, with Holland's side packed with household names while their opponents kicked off with just three players boasting more than 10 caps.

In the fifth minute, Northern Ireland produced a strong counter-attack as Andrew Little raced into space on the right before winning a corner.

It was by some distance their best move of the night.

Sneijder unsuccessfully tried his luck from 20 yards in the seventh minute and Van Persie's shot was cleared after debutant James McPake barged Arjen Robben over just outside the area.

The inevitable opener arrived in the 11th minute, Mark van Bommel and Sneijder linking up at a corner before the latter curled a ball to the far post.

Van Persie was waiting and headed home unmarked.

Four minutes later it was 2-0, Michael Duff felling Van Bommel in an inviting position 25 yards out. Sneijder commandeered the free-kick and duly curled it past the despairing Lee Camp.

Despite captain for the night Sammy Clingan desperately attempting to sweep up in front of the back four, Sneijder was controlling things for Holland in the final third.

With 27 minutes gone he dribbled the ball to within six yards of the Northern Ireland goal only to lose control at the last moment.

A minute later Holland had their third after the referee awarded a penalty for handball against Shane Ferguson, who was attempting to smother Van Persie's chip over the top.

The Arsenal striker sent Camp the wrong way with a clean strike into the right-hand corner.

The Oranje were in clinical mood and bagged a fourth after 36 minutes when Clingan gifted possession to the alert Robben.

He fed Van Persie, who touched the ball on to Affelay on the overlap. The Barcelona forward hit a low shot across Camp, who got a hand to it but could not push it wide of his far post.

O'Neill made three changes at the interval, with Roy Carroll coming on for his first appearance in goal for six years. Ryan McGivern and Josh Carson were also sent on in place of Daniel Lafferty and Grant McCann.

Carroll had been on the field just six minutes when he was picking the ball out of the net.

Sneijder's cross-field pass picked out Robben on the right wing and he rolled the ball to Van Persie. He took one touch, laying off for Afellay whose placed effort nestled in the corner.

Holland went to their bench after 56 minutes, with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Rafael van der Vaart the high-class replacements for Van Persie and Van Bommel.

Further changes followed for Northern Ireland, with O'Neill sending for Niall McGinn and Rory McArdle.

Carroll had a couple of nervy moments but got away with a mix-up with McPake and a drop at the feet of Robben.

McGivern struck a low shot wide for in a rare break for the visitors, who benefited slightly from the momentum-breaking effect of the second-half substitutions.

Van der Vaart hit the post with 15 minutes to go but the sixth goal was not long coming, Vlaar nodding home Afellay's corner from six yards.

John Heitinga spurned a point-blank chance to add a seventh in injury-time, a rare slice of luck for O'Neill's men on a chastening evening.

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