Persie blows knock out shaky Mexico

Persie blows knock out shaky Mexico

Good outing for Holland; France pip Costa Rica

Persie blows knock out shaky Mexico

Enforcer: Holland’s Robin van Persie celebrates after scoring against Mexico in a World Cup friendly on Wednesday. APWith 16 days until the start of the tournament in South Africa, the Netherlands also secured a morale-boosting win as Robin van Persie scored twice in a 2-1 victory over Mexico.

Winger Valbuena took advantage of fine work by midfielder Abou Diaby to score the winner seven minutes from time for the former world and European champions, playing in a 4-3-3 formation instead of the usual 4-2-3-1.

Midfielder Carlos Hernandez surprised France keeper Steve Mandanda with a low angled shot from the edge of the box to put Costa Rica ahead on 11 minutes.  France, who played neat football but looked shaky in defence, struck back 11 minutes later with an own goal by defender Douglas Sequeira and they dominated the second half.

During warm-up, the players wore tee-shirts saying "Pour Lass" (For Lass) in a message to midfielder Lassana Diarra, who was ruled out of the World Cup by illness on Saturday.
Coach Raymond Domenech, who has faced heavy criticism since his side's Euro 2008 flop, left captain Thierry Henry on the bench, bringing on the Barcelona forward for the second half. One piece of good news for Domenech during the game in the northern French mining town of Lens was that centre back William Gallas, doubtful for the World Cup because of a sore calf, played the first half without any problems.

France, who needed Henry's infamous handball to qualify for the World Cup through a playoff at the expense of Ireland, looked in control for most of the game but need more to suggest they can make an impact in the June 11-July 11 finals. They had to wait for Valbuena to come on and show his class with an angled shot from the edge of the box to seal victory.

The Dutch started with only five first-team regulars after coach Bert van Marwijk said the match would be the last test before he reduces his 27-man squad to 23 on Thursday.
The Dutch were without Arjen Robben, Mark van Bommel and Wesley Sneijder, who all featured in Saturday's Champions League final. Van Persie led the line alongside Dirk Kuyt and Ibrahim Afellay with Rafael van der Vaart as playmaker.

The Dutch made a bright start and created chances before Van Persie opened the scoring from Van der Vaart's crossfield pass and the Arsenal forward added a second three minutes before the interval.

But Mexico, also World Cup-bound, dominated the second half and tested the nervous Dutch defence more than once before Javier Hernandez headed home from close range. "We showed some fine combination football in the first half, though followed by a lesser second but for a first friendly match we can be satisfied," Van Persie told SBS6-TV.  Van Marwijk said he understood why the performance had been a bit flat.

"Van Persie was excellent tonight with two beautiful goals, but we missed the power in the second half and allowed Mexico to play much better," he said. "But that all has to do with the intensive training sessions last days."