AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The Netherlands grabbed two late goals to snatch a 3-1 home victory over 10-man Kazakhstan having trailed until just past the hour mark in their Euro 2016 qualifier on Friday.
The Dutch took the three points thanks to Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Ibrahim Afellay and a Robin van Persie penalty, having fallen behind in the 17th minute to Renat Abdulin’s diving header from a corner in the Group A match.
The Kazakhs had successfully defended in numbers until the 62nd minute when substitute Huntelaar equalised with a header and they were down to 10 men when striker Baurzhan Dzholchiyev was sent off two minutes later for a foul on Afellay.
Afellay, making his comeback for the national team after an absence of 23 months, put the Netherlands ahead thanks to a 20-metre strike with only eight minutes remaining and Van Persie wrapped up the win by converting a penalty in the 89th.
Iceland and Czech Republic, who both won away on Friday, top the group with six points followed by the Dutch on three, with Kazakhstan and Latvia on one and Turkey bottom without a point.
The Netherlands attacked from the start but after going behind to the early goal it was left to coach Guus Hiddink to change the game with introduction of Huntelaar for defensive midfielder Nigel de Jong in the 55th minute.
The Schalke 04 captain rewarded his manager by heading home a free kick seven minutes after coming off the bench.
“It was nice to see Huntelaar scoring with a beautiful classic header. After the equaliser it was a matter of time until we scored our second goal”, Hiddink said. “You could feel that.”
Olympiakos Piraeus midfielder Afellay, who started as part of a three-man Dutch midfield alongside De Jong and Wesley Sneijder, then beat keeper Aleksandr Mokin before Van Persie was brought down in the area and got up to convert the spot kick.
The Netherlands had lost 2-1 to the Czech Republic in their opener while Kazakhstan, who are ranked 127th in the world by FIFA, earned a goalless draw against Latvia.