x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

No guarantees for Defoe

The England striker Jermain Defoe gave his Italian manager a convenient headache after a superb second-half double to seal a draw against Holland on Wednesday night.

Defoe celebrates his equalising second goal against Holland.
Defoe celebrates his equalising second goal against Holland.

With several of Europe's big nations in serious trouble in the qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, the two countries with the least to worry about met in Amsterdam on Wednesday night. Holland, already qualified from Group Nine, hosted Fabio Capello's England, seven points clear and cruising at the top of Group Six.

While typical noises came out of England's Premier League clubs bemoaning the "meaningless" friendly just three days before the start of the season, it was a chance for several players to showcase their worth, nine months before the main event. Horrible defensive errors from Rio Ferdinand and Gareth Barry gifted the Dutch a 2-0 first-half lead, but will have done little to affect their standing in Capello's squad. Jermain Defoe, however, gave his Italian manager a convenient headache after a superb second-half double to seal a draw.

Defoe knows that one good display will not win him a starting spot. "To be honest the season hasn't started yet so I just want to get back to the club, keep working hard, get a good start in the Premier League and take it from there," he said. "I think it was my best game for England." For Holland, the game was revealing in that it highlighted their struggles at the back against pace: "We faced problems when England played more offensively," Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk said. "Before the break they lacked speed with Beckham and Heskey, but in the second half we came under pressure and didn't handle that well."

Elswhere, France did little to ease the criticism heaped on manager Raymond Domenech after struggling to a 1-0 win over the Faroe Islands in Torshavn in Group Seven. In fact, Toulouse striker Andre-Pierre Gignac's goal may have saved France's World Cup qualifying campaign, for without it they would have been seven points behind group leaders Serbia. In April, Gignac came off the bench to set up Franck Ribery's late goal in the 1-0 win against Lithuania on his international debut, meaning he has either scored or created France's only goal in the two games he has played. He said: "I've been given my chance so I try to justify the faith shown in me."

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