Offshore drilling, Europe: at the Netherlands 2, Turkey 0

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Man of the match: We’ve become used to seeing Arjen Robben on the right, where he can cut in onto that flamethrower of a left foot. Today, he was on the left, where the Netherlands’ more dangerous weapon was relegated to rolling passes into the area after beating Hamit Altintop to the byline. When the Dutch were able to find him, Robben consistently beat his man, nearly creating goals in the 64th and 82nd minutes. The Bayern star also won a number of corners, including the one that led to the game-wining goal.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • If it wasn’t for Robin van Persie’s 17th minute goal, the first half would have been a disaster for the home team. Favored coming into the match, the Netherlands were clearly second best over the first 45 minutes, with Turkey’s lack of execution in the final third depriving them of chances.
  • Most of those near-chances were generated by Arda Turan, who was able to transition through the Netherlands’ right side, consistently turning the Dutch defense. But Turan was never able to connect with Umut Bulut, his passes into the penalty area rolling behind Turkey’s lone striker.
  • Dutch coach Louis van Gaal showed his frustration in the second half’s opening minutes, making two quick substitutions. By then, tension in an Amsterdam Arena was palpable, the crowd weary of their underperforming side. In the 57th minute, Turkey nearly had their equalizer when Hamit Altintop forced Tim Krul into a lunging save on a shot from 23 yards.
  • The chance seemed to serve as a wakeup call for the Dutch. After a couple more minutes’ scuffling, the Netherlands finally started matching Turkey’s intensity. Rather than sitting back and letting the visitors dictate the match, the Netherlands started pressing Turkey, finally using their speed to their advantage in defense.
  • A big part of that was midfielder Leroy Fer, brought on for Jordy Clasie on the hour. Whereas Clasie sat at the base of midfield in a purely holding, destroying role, Fer brought more intensity, ranging to pressure Turkey higher up the field.
  • Robben also raised his game in the final half hour, spending more time on the ball, seemingly beating Altintop at will. Although he was never able to craft a goal, his threat helped slow Turkey down.
  • Late, after Turkey went into desperation mode, Luciano Narsingh scored his second international goal, giving the Dutch their final, deceptive margin of victory.
  • For Turkey, it isn’t a terrible result. It’s the first day of qualifying, and they lost by only one on the road to the group’s best team. At home, they can expect more success, particularly given Turkey’s intensity seemed to be what gave the Dutch the most trouble.
  • For the Dutch, three points is three points, but the side needs to improve. Nothing much worked today, with van Gaal doing little to assuage concerns the Netherlands’ summer form may transcend Euro 2012.
  • Van Gaal’s chances to midfield didn’t work, with Clasie and Kevin Strootman unable to connect with Wesley Sneijder. It’s hard to imagine the Dutch as an elite side without Sneijder playing at his best, especially when the defense is still a mess.
  • Right now, there’s nothing brilliant about the Oranje.