Netherlands came from a goal down to seal a morale-boosting 2-1 friendly victory away to England on Tuesday.
Roy Hodgson’s side were riding high after their 3-2 victory over Germany on Saturday, but they failed to replicate the same standards they hit in the second half in Berlin against a Dutch side who looked far sharper than in recent displays.
Wembley observed an impeccable minute’s silence for the victims of the recent terror attacks in Brussels, Lahore and Iskanderiyah, while applause once again sounded in tribute to Johan Cruyff, but the home fans did not have much to cheer until Jamie Vardy capped a fine team move to snatch the lead just before half-time.
Vincent Janssen, on his full debut for Danny Blind’s side, equalised from the penalty spot on 50 minutes after Danny Rose had handled in the area, and Netherlands – who had lost five of their last eight matches before the game – looked happy to sit deeper and exploit the counter-attack in the second half.
Substitute Theo Walcott, whose place at Euro 2016 would seem to be under increasing threat given the form of England’s forwards, proved a real handful as the hosts looked to find a winner, but Luciano Narsingh converted Janssen’s cross – after a strong challenge in the build-up – to snatch a surprise victory.
Hodgson made eight changes from Berlin, Leicester City’s Danny Drinkwater turning in a composed debut performance, while Netherlands – captained by Manchester United’s Daley Blind – started with just five of the players who began the 3-2 loss to France.
England began in sluggish fashion and Rose was fortunate not to concede an early penalty when he slid in and caught Joel Veltman just inside the area, before Memphis Depay lashed a half-volley over the crossbar.
Applause rang out within Wembley in the 14th minute in tribute to Dutch great Cruyff, who died last week, and Ibrahim Afellay brought about the first save of the match soon afterwards, testing Fraser Forster from the edge of the area after good work from Quincy Promes.
Forster was at full stretch to deny Georginio Wijnaldum’s bending effort, but England, who improved their display as the half drew on, took the lead five minutes before the break.
Adam Lallana slid a fine throughball to Kyle Walker inside the area, and his cut-back was turned into the net at the near post by Vardy from just six yards out for the 100th goal of Hodgson’s reign.
England looked lively early in the second half, but they gifted Netherlands a way back into the match when Rose flicked out an arm to block Narsingh’s cross after John Stones had slipped and lost possession, and Janssen swept the penalty high into the net.
England responded in positive fashion. Vardy rifled in a shot from 25 yards which Jeroen Zoet did well to tip over before substitute Walcott was denied by a timely block from Blind, and the Arsenal man whistled a shot just over the crossbar after a fine turn to beat Jetro Willems.
But Netherlands snatched the win in controversial fashion with 14 minutes to play.
Janssen was allowed to play on after barging Phil Jagielka off the ball, and he squared across goal for the unmarked Narsingh, who fired home to ensure a first home defeat since November 2013 for a disappointing England.
Key Opta stats:
– England conceded a goal from the penalty spot for the first time since March 2008 (Ribery, v France).
– Vincent Janssen’s goal was the first England had conceded in 443 minutes of action at Wembley.
– England conceded twice at Wembley for the first time since November 2013 (v Chile).
– The Three Lions haven’t won any of their last seven meetings with the Netherlands (D4 L3).
– This was just England’s third defeat at home under Roy Hodgson (W16 D2).