World Cup friendlies: Van Persie puts Holland over Ghana, Portugal and Greece draw

In a busy night of international action on Saturday, Robin van Persie put the Dutch past Ghana while a Ronaldo-less Portugal side played to a scoreless draw against Greece.

Dutch striker Robin van Persie scores the lone goal for the Netherlands in a 1-0 win over Ghana on Saturday night. Kay In T Veen / EPA / May 31, 2014
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In Rotterdam, Holland continued their build-up to the World Cup 2014 finals with a 1-0 win over fellow Brazil-bound side Ghana, with Manchester United striker Robin van Persie’s fifth minute goal proving decisive.

The Dutch, who open their World Cup campaign against titleholders Spain in a rematch of the 2010 final, have only one further prep lined up, against Wales on Wednesday in Amsterdam.

Van Persie’s goal came after a neat build-up between Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben.

The 2010 quarter-finalists Ghana were unable to produce any real chances agianst a stout Dutch defence but looked in good physical shape ahead of their opening World Cup game against the United States on June 14.

Dutch coach Louis van Gaal, who takes over at Manchester United after the World Cup, said: “We created quite a few chances even if the game wasn’t of great quality.

“I’m very happy with the way my new (5-3-2) system worked. For sure it’s not attractive as the old system of 4-3-3, you shouldn’t wait for a great show with 5-3-2.

“But up against Ghana, which is a great side, this system worked really well.

“There will be critics but I assume and I truly believe in this system and in my players chosen to carry it out.”

Holland and Ghana were the highlight match on a busy night of international friendlies, which included a scoreless draw between Italy and Ireland that saw the Italians lose Riccardo Montolivo to a broken leg.

In Lisbon, Portugal, without injured star striker Cristiano Ronaldo (thigh), Pepe and Raul Meireles, played out a goalless draw with Greece.

The fixture was a rematch of the Euro 2004 final in the Portuguese capital which the hosts under then-coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, now boss of Brazil, lost 1-0.

Portugal coach Paulo Bento said: “Tonight we couldn’t call on many players, not only Cristano, and I reckon we put up a good display.”

Portugal open in Brazil against Germany, before USA and then Ghana in Group G.

Croatia tuned up for their clash with hosts Brazil in the World Cup curtain-raiser with a 2-1 win over Mali, with Ivan Perisic scoring both goals. Meanwhile in Oslo Fabio Capello’s Russua were held 1-1 by Norway.

Elsewhere, Algeria saw off Armenia 3-1, an encouraging result thats saw one of the Desert Foxes’ most crucial players, Islam Slimani, net the third score just before halftime. Nabil Ghilas and Essaid Belkalem scored the first two. Bosnia and Herzegovina beat Ivory Coast 2-1 with Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko repsonsible for both of Bosnia’s goals.

Mexico, who endured a massively underwhelming qualifying campaign, beat Ecuador 3-1 but lost Luis Montes to injury just after he scored their first goal. Marco Fabian and Giovani Dos Santos added second-half strikes.

And Colombia, facing Senegal in Argentina, played to a 2-2 draw after building a 2-0 lead. Teofilo Gutierrez scored 11 minutes in and Carlos Bacca netted the second right at the halfway mark, but Moussa Konate scored at the 47th minute before the end of the first half and Cheikh Ndoye equalised at 52 minutes.

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