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Jun 4, 2014

Fears over Van Persie

NetherlandsNetherlands
WalesWales
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Arjen Robben fires Netherlands in front.

Robin van Persie sparked fresh concerns over his fitness after playing just 45 minutes of Netherlands' laboured 2-0 friendly win over stubborn Wales in Amsterdam.

The Manchester United striker, who had an injury-curtailed second half of the season, was withdrawn at half-time of Netherlands' final match before flying to Brazil for the World Cup.

- Van Persie, Van Gaal downplay injury concerns

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 of the absence of star Welsh names such as Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey 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 Netherlands the concerns are more immediate. Their next game will be against world champions Spain in Salvador on June 13 and Van Persie, who only returned to action for United's final three games after a six-week layoff 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 Netherlands but the referee had already blown for a foul on Chester.

Wales continued to play well 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.

Netherlands 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.

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