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Arjen Robben shines as Netherlands overcome Wales in friendly

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Wales' build-up towards Euro 2016 started with defeat as Arjen Robben showed his class with a second-half brace in Netherlands' 3-2 friendly victory in Cardiff.

Robben took his international goal tally to 30 with two excellent finishes and left Wales to bemoan the absence of their injured talisman Gareth Bale.

Bas Dost had headed Netherlands in front after 32 minutes but Wales levelled on the stroke of half-time when Terence Kongolo handled Ben Davies' shot in the area.

Jasper Cillessen, the goalkeeper substituted by then Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal ahead of a penalty shoot-out during the 2014 World Cup, responded with the first spot-kick of his career from Joe Allen.

But Joe Ledley followed up to find the bottom corner of the net for only his fourth goal in 59 Wales appearances.

Robben restored Netherlands' lead with a brilliant solo goal after 54 minutes before substitute Emyr Huws levelled with his first Wales goal.

But Robben raced through nine minutes from time to settle the contest - his fourth goal in three games against Wales.

The two countries last met in June 2014 when Netherlands were preparing for the World Cup and Wales provided warm-up opposition for the Dutch ahead of Brazil.

Netherlands won 2-0 on that occasion but the roles were reversed this time with Wales set to embark on their first major tournament in 58 years at Euro 2016 in France next summer and the Dutch staying at home.

The defeat in Amsterdam was the last game Bale had missed for his country and Wales had to somehow fill the huge void.

Bas Dost Arjen Robben celeb Netherlands Wales
Arjen Robben (left) was in sparkling form for Netherlands versus Wales.

The immediate answer was to deploy Lawrence as a lone frontman and the on-loan Blackburn forward showed excellent movement, even if he failed to take two promising openings.

Lawrence scuffed his first opening straight at Cillessen and then dragged his second effort wide from Andy King's excellent through-ball - but it was still an encouraging performance and one which should boost his ambitions of making the Euro 2016 squad in France.

Those misses proved costly as Dost met Daryl Janmaat's cross at the far post, the ball going in off Wayne Hennessey and the Crystal Palace goalkeeper might have felt he could have done better with the header.

Hennessey did better as Robben tried to reach a loose ball and Netherlands finished the half firmly in the ascendancy with Quincy Promes forcing another save close to the interval.

But Wales were level on the stroke of half-time when Kongolo handled, French referee Benoit Bastien awarding the spot-kick even though the Dutch defender would have found it impossible to get out of the way.

Cillessen guessed correctly to go to his right but Ledley spared Allen's blushes by reacting quickest to the rebound and firing home.

Wales had a warning when Hennessey stood tall to deny Robben but the the Wales defence soon allowed the Dutch skipper to get onto his favoured left foot and he buried the ball in the bottom of the net with unerring accuracy.

Promes almost extended Netherlands' lead as the visitors threatened to put the contest to bed, but Lawrence was still lively and almost set up substitute George Williams for an equaliser.

And Wales were level when Allen crossed and Huws punished some dozy Dutch defending with a powerful header for his first international goal.

George Williams tested Cillessen from distance at his near post as Wales sensed an unlikely victory but Netherlands, and especially Robben, were still a huge threat at the other end.

Robben snatched at a dropping ball to flash a shot wide but there was no second escape for Wales as replacement goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams was ruthlessly exposed and the Netherlands captain finished in style for his second goal of the night.

It was an eighth straight defeat for Wales against Netherlands, but manager Chris Coleman will be able to take plenty of attacking positives from a game when Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Hal Robson-Kanu were all missing.

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