Netherlands beat Mexico 2-1

A backup Dutch team beat Mexico 2-1 in a warmup on Thursday to reach at least the second round of the World Cup.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:34 IST
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A backup Dutch team beat Mexico 2-1 in a warmup on Thursday to reach at least the second round of the World Cup. After Mexico striker Jared Borgetti struck in the first half, John Heitinga and Ryan Babel scored in the second half. "We can be very positive about the squad, which proved it has strength in depth," said Dutch coach Marco van Basten. The Dutch experimental defence committed an elementary error in the 19th minute. This left expert header Borgetti unmarked in the centre on a corner, and the Bolton Wanderers forward headed home the easiest of goals. Unmarked defence In an almost identical move in the 52nd, Ajax defender Heitinga rushed through Mexico's defence unmarked on a corner from Wesley Sneijder to head home the equaliser. Five minutes later, captain Dirk Kuyt spotted another hole in the Mexican defence and found Babel on his own. The Ajax striker gave the Dutch the victory with an angled half volley. Van Basten fielded a predominantly B lineup and a third-string goalie. In defence, only Liverpool rightback Jan Kromkamp kept his place. In midfield Sneijder was again the replacement for the injured Rafael van der Vaart and had another fine game. Arsenal right winger Robin van Persie was again allowed to shine up front but was replaced at halftime. "We fielded both lineups and it left me with a good feeling," Van Basten said. Top lineup Mexico fielded its top lineup for the first half only, then made six replacements. Considering both teams could well face each other in the second round it was clear Van Basten did not want to give away too many clues. The Netherlands beat Cameroon 1-0 last Saturday with its best lineup. It will play Australia in its last warmup on Sunday. The Netherlands opens against Serbia-Montenegro on June 11 in World Cup Group C, and plays Ivory Coast and Argentina. Mexico narrowly lost to France 1-0 over the weekend. It is favoured to advance from Group D, which also includes Portugal, Iran and Angola. The Dutch took the initiative from the start and Kuyt saw a ball cleared off the line after Sanchez was beaten. Dangerous action A free kick in the 30th minute from Sneijder was the only other dangerous action in a first half which bitterly disappointed the sellout crowd of 34,000. Once Mexico managed the early Dutch attacks and scored through Borgetti, it easily contained the home side, showing composure in every line. At halftime it was Mexico which switch around its team with four replacements, and it quickly showed. Suddenly, its defecse was all over the place and before it could catch its breath, the Dutch were in the lead. In the 73rd, the Orange should have sealed the result when Kuyt broke with only the goalie to beat. He was too slow though and let the defence catch up, and Babel put the loose ball inexplicably wide. Lineups: Netherlands: Henk Timmer (Maarten Stekelenburg, 46); Jan Kromkamp, Khalid Boulahrouz, John Heitinga, Tim de Cler; Denny Landzaat, Hedwiges Maduro, Wesley Sneijder; Robin Van Persie (Jan Vennegoor, 46), Dirk Kuyt, Ryan Babel. Mexico: Osvaldo Sanchez; Jose Castro (Jose Arellano, 65), Rafael Marquez, Ricardo Osorio, Carlos Salcido, Gonzalo Pineda (Claudio Suarez, 65); Francesco Fonseca (Ramon Morales, 46), Pavel Pardo (Gerardo Torrado, 46), Omar Bravo (Rafael Garcia, 46); Jared Borgetti, Guillermo Franco (Antonio Zinha, 46). (AP)