05 June 2014 | News Comments

Netherlands win as Italy draw again in WC warm-up

Robin van Persie sparked fresh concerns over his fitness after playing just 45 minutes of the Netherlands’ laboured 2-0 World Cup warm-up win over a stubborn Wales side in Amsterdam.

The Manchester United striker, who had an injury-curtailed second half of the season, was withdrawn at half-time of the hosts’ final match before flying to Brazil.

Louis van Gaal's side won the game comfortably enough with goals from Arjen Robben and Jeremain Lens, but under-strength Wales proved worthy opponents and frustrated them for large spells.

Much had been made the absence of star Welsh names such as Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Ashley Williams but Chris Coleman's men, well led by Liverpool's Joe Allen, gave a good account of themselves.

They will now look forward to the start of Euro 2016 qualifying with some optimism.

For the Netherlands the concerns are more immediate.

Their next game will be against world champions Spain in Salvador on 13 June and Van Persie, who only returned to action for United's final three games after a six-week lay-off with a knee injury, is key to their hopes.

He had looked lively in his spell on the field, further boosting hopes after goals in the previous two friendlies that he would soon be back to full fitness.

However, Van Gaal may now be anxiously awaiting an update on his condition.

Van Persie came up against a Wales defence in which Hull's James Chester was handed his first cap.

Wales manager Chris Coleman had promised to get at the Dutch from the outset but, predictably, it was the hosts who made the better start.

Robben fired over with just over a minute gone and then Van Persie weaved through some poor tackling to test Wayne Hennessey with a shot.

Robben then broke away from Danny Gabbidon before dragging another shot wide.

Yet Wales were not intimidated and did show some nice movement with Allen almost releasing Jonathan Williams with a good through ball.

Simon Church also whipped in a dangerous cross from the left which Bruno Martins Indi cleared unconvincingly over his own bar.

That appeared to dampen the party-like atmosphere but the crowd soon sparked back into life when Robben combined with Sneijder to create a shooting chance but Gabbidon managed to block.

Robben went close again when another effort was deflected narrowly wide by Joe Ledley.

Robben eventually got his goal after 32 minutes, finishing emphatically on the rebound after Hennessey had saved with his feet from Van Persie.

Van Persie was unlucky again when he showed great technique to shoot first time from a Daryl Janmaat cut-back but it drifted wide. That proved his final notable contribution.

Jonathan Williams wriggled into the box early in the second half but his cross was easily cut out.

Lens smashed a shot against the post for the Netherlands but the referee had already blown for a foul on Chester.

Wales continued to give a good account of themselves and Cillessen needed to be alert to deny substitute Jermaine Easter.

Fulham youngster George Williams - called into the squad after Bale withdrew last week - was given a chance after 70 minutes and made an immediate impression with a good run into the box.

Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar got back to deny him with a well-timed challenge.

The home side doubled their lead after 76 minutes when Robben broke clear down the right and pulled the ball back for Lens, who could not miss from close range.

Yet Wales continued to make life difficult for the hosts as they denied them space and George Williams threatened with another good run before the final whistle.

Italy's shocking build-up to the World Cup continued as their winless run was extended to seven games after a 1-1 draw against Luxembourg in Perugia.

Claudio Marchisio's ninth-minute goal had put the hosts in front and Italy should have extended their lead but were twice denied by the woodwork in the second half.

Maxine Chanot pulled Luxembourg level with five minutes remaining when he nodded past a helpless Gianluigi Buffon in the Italy goal.

Luxembourg followed the Republic of Ireland, Nigeria and Armenia in drawing with Cesare Prandelli's side in their near nine-month barren spell - although only world and European champions Spain have beaten them in that time, alongside six draws.

Italy will try to put the embarrassing result behind them before their World Cup opener against England on 14 June in Brazil. They have one more warm-up game, against Brazilian club side Fluminense on Sunday.

Goals from Nabil Bentaleb and El Arbi Soudani gave Algeria a 2-1 win over Romania in Geneva.

Tottenham midfielder Bentaleb's opener was cancelled out by Alexandru Chipciu but Soudani, the Dinamo Zagreb forward, struck a 66th-minute winner.