AMSTERDAM (AP) — Robin van Persie scored with a trademark left-foot volley to give a new-look Netherlands a 1-1 draw with Ecuador in a pre-World Cup friendly on Saturday.
Van Persie controlled a long pass from Jordy Clasie on his chest and immediately smashed it past Maximo Banguera in the 37th minute to cancel out a ninth-minute strike by Jefferson Montero that gave Ecuador a surprise lead.
"We saw a magnificent goal," coach Louis van Gaal said. "A fantastic pass by Clasie and the way Van Persie finished it was phenomenal."
The Netherlands had the best of the possession for much of the match at a sold-out Amsterdam Arena, but struggled to create clear-cut chances. Van Persie's striking partner, Memphis Depay, still seeking his first international goal in his fifth match, squandered two good chances before the break.
Captain Antonio Valencia, playing on the right wing, provided much of Ecuador's attacking impetus, but lacked support.
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal started with the formation he plans to use in Brazil — a five-man defense, three in midfield and two attackers. He hasn't yet settled on which players will play where and the sometimes stuttering Dutch performance showed that they still need to get used to playing it.
"I'm disappointed in the fact that when we had the ball we could not find the free man," Van Gaal said.
The break with the Netherlands' traditional attacking 4-3-3 formation was forced on Van Gaal by the season-ending knee injury midfield dynamo Kevin Strootman suffered in January playing for Roma.
The new man in defense was 20-year-old Angola-born Terence Kongolo of Feyenoord, one of four defenders from the Rotterdam club in the starting lineup.
The inexperienced defense was easily opened up by Ecuador in the ninth minute when Felipe Caicedo played a quick through ball that left Montero with space and time to calmly slot the ball into the corner.
The Netherlands didn't look like breaking down a well-organized Ecuador defense until Clasie sent a floating pass into the box and Van Persie produced his flash of genius for his 42nd international goal in his 83rd appearance.
In what could be a major blow to Ecuador's World Cup preparations, striker Caicedo, top-scorer in the qualification campaign, was stretchered off in the first half clutching his side, and his replacement, Armando Wila, also was carried off 10 minutes into the second half.
Van Gaal also had injury worries, with right back Daryl Janmaat appearing to injure an ankle late in the first half. Van Gaal said Janmaat would undergo tests in hospital on Sunday, but said he did not think the injury was serious.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jordy Clasie
- Jefferson Montero
- Louis van Gaal