Netherlands – Portugal 1:1

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On a beautiful summer evening in Faro, southern Portugal,  the Dutch team seemed to finally break with a nasty habit on Wednesday. Team Orange was in Faro on its way to its second win in 12 meetings with Portugal, until Cristiano Ronaldo scored the equalizer in the 87th minute.

Despite the disappointment of that late hit, team Orange can be reasonably satisfied a year for the World Cup. The young team played disciplined and mature, even when it was challenged by the Portuguese. So it was a real contest in the south of Portugal

Many eyes were focused on the defense of the Dutch national team. Feyenoord players Stefan de Vrij and Bruno Martins Indi recently disappointed as defenders against the attackers of PEC Zwolle and FC Twente. It was also a wait-and-see how Paul Verhaegh was going to perform during his first match for the national team. Last week, the nearly 30-year old right back of FC Augsburg, could hardly believe that he was selected. Now he was suddenly standing face-to-face with Cristiano Ronaldo.

But Verhaegh pleasantly surprised against Portugal. His defense work was strong and occasionally he launched an attack, like in the 17th minute, when he set up an attack that ultimately ended, via Jeremain Lens,  with Kevin Strootman. The new AS Roma midfielder struck the goal with a loud bang: 0-1.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Mega Star Ronaldo had regularly problems with defender Martins Indi. The Feyenoord defender showed that he learned how to defend at the streets of Rotterdam. Fabio Coentrão made so often offenses that Van Gaal furiously went to the arbitration.

It was nice to see, just after halftime, how Van Ginkel put Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, substitute for van Persie,  in front of the Portuguese goal. The elegant attack unfortunately didn’t lead to a hit. Moments later goalkeeper Michel Vorm prevented Ronaldo from scoring. The expected great final offensive of the home team held off, until Ronaldo scored in the 87th minute. Portugal beat the Netherlands at Euro 2004, World Cup 2006 and Euro 2012.

Robben, van Persie and Strootman surely to Brazil

In the run-up to the World Cup next year in Brazil, coach Louis van Gaal builds the Dutch team around three players. Captain Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Kevin Strootman are sure of their place, said Van Gaal at SBS 6, shortly before the match against Portugal. "Nobody has a fixed place except Robben, Van Persie and Strootman. They have some extra credit," said the coach. "The rest has to prove it."

The defenders Stefan de Vrij and Bruno Martins Indi have  preliminary confidence of van Gaal. “de Vrij and Indi have always done well for me,” said Van Gaal. "Of course I have seen that they lack the form at Feyenoord, but that has not been the case with me. So I have faith in them."