COMMENTARY | Football often isn't fair.
Holland and Germany produced what was the most entertaining contest of the first two days of the 2013 Euro U-21. Both sides deserved to leave the match with a point, as both had dominated one half of the action. It wasn't meant to be for the Germans, however, who, after finding an equalizer nine minutes from time, surrendered a goal at the death that was their undoing. The Dutch left with all of the points and a win over their rivals, and they are now tied with Spain atop the Group B table.
Holland U-21 3-2 Germany U-21: Maher's first
Dutch midfielder and reported Ajax and Manchester City target Adam Maher was well on his way to a man of the match performance as the halftime whistle sounded. A brilliant run of play capped off by a duo of passes completed with Maher having a free attempt on goal seven minutes into the match, but his first-touch left-footed curler was denied by German goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
Maher would make no mistake when given a second opportunity to open the scoring.
The Netherlands won a corner midway through the first, and it was played short to Maher. A give-and-go found the current AZ Alkmaar man unmarked in the far corner of the box, and he unleashed a strike the completely fooled Leno and landed in the right corner of the net. Maher had two additional chances to score later on in the half, but his final touch betrayed him both times. Those two moments didn't take away from a 45-minute shift that showed why Champions League clubs are in for the 19-year old.
Holland U-21 3-2 Germany U-21: Game of inches
Sometimes the bounces go your way, and sometimes they don't. 14 minutes after Maher opened the scoring, Georginio Wijnaldum beat three German defenders before hitting a rocket that was heading north of the crossbar. Leno, who had positioned himself several steps off his line, couldn't take a chance, and he did well to get a hand on the ball. The 'keeper deflected the shot straight up into the air, however, and neither he nor a teammate could react quickly enough to keep the ball from bouncing over the line for Holland's second tally of the game.
Fast forward to the 63rd minute of play. Germany's Kevin Volland, as did Wijnaldum in the first half, cut past his markers before setting up for a left-footed strike. Dutch goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet was left stranded and with nothing to do but watch as the ball sailed above his head before it thundered off of the crossbar. Volland hit the ball with such power that it nearly deflected off of Zoet and back into goal. Either of those attempts could have gone much differently. Neither, unfortunately for Germany, did.
Holland U-21 3-2 Germany U-21: MOTM
Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Lewis Holtby had a very quiet first half. He needed but 35 seconds to begin remedying that following the halftime break. An inexcusable Holland turnover in their defensive third was followed by Holtby making a splendid run down the left wing and into the penalty area. The Spurs man beat the sliding Zoet to a through ball that had been played into the box, Holtby was taken down by the Holland 'keeper, and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. Sebastian Rudy converted the penalty to bring one back for Germany, and the Holtby Show was off and running.
From that moment on, Holtby was the most creative and overall top player on the pitch. He then capped off his stellar evening in the 81st minute with his best solo effort of the contest. Holtby received a throw-in while being marked by two Holland players, and he did well to retreat back toward the center of the field where two teammates were waiting for him. Volland and Christian Clemens ran into the box to free up space for Holtby, who rewarded his teammates by smashing a strike into the far corner for the equalizer. It was the type of goal Tottenham fans have been dreaming of since January, and also a reminder that Spurs would do well to be patient with a young man who has plenty of potential.
Zac has been covering Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, New York Red Bulls, Major League Soccer, the USMNT and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
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