Netherlands beat Belarus 3-0

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Robin van Persie scored two goals on Wednesday to lead the Netherlands over Belarus 3-0 in European Championship qualifying.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:36 IST
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Eindhoven, Netherlands:

Robin van Persie scored two goals on Wednesday to lead the Netherlands over Belarus 3-0 in European Championship qualifying. Switching between the left and right wing, Van Persie was the host team's most dangerous player at Philips Stadium. Dirk Kuyt scored the third goal with a 90th-minute header. Van Persie put the Netherlands ahead with a powerful left-foot shot in the 32nd minute after Belarus only half cleared Wesley Sneijder's free kick. Van Persie grabbed his second goal in the 78th minute, a low shot that went in off the inside of the post. Kuyt completed the scoring before the final whistle with a glancing header. Netherlands coach Marco van Basten went into the game under pressure after his team's second round World Cup exit followed by its lackluster 1-0 victory Saturday at Luxembourg. The 3-0 victory will ease some of the criticism, but the Netherlands remained far from convincing. The hosts opened with Kuyt delivering a dangerous cross in the third minute which Klaas Jan Huntelaar just failed to make contact with. Belarus had its first shot on goal in the 12th minute when Timofei Kalachev forced Edwin van der Sar to tip the ball over his bar for a corner after Maksim Romaschenko had dispossessed John Heitinga on the halfway line. Van Persie fell in the area under a Belarus tackle in the 20th minute but English referee Howard Webb rejected his appeal for a penalty. From the resulting corner, Joris Mathijsen laid the ball back to Nigel de Jong, but he blasted his shot well over the bar. Minutes after taking the lead, Kuyt had the ball in the net after Sneijder's curling shot hit the post but the Liverpool striker was ruled offsides. Sneijder was in the action again before halftime, this time preserving the Netherlands' one goal advantage by heading a Belarus effort off his own goal line. After the break, the Dutch play was as scrappy as it had been against Luxembourg and it was not until after the hour mark that Van Persie drew a save from Vasily Khomoutovsky and Sneijder drove a low, long-range, shot wide. In the 68th, Stijn Schaars replaced Denny Landzaat and almost immediately provided a cross that Van Persie headed wide. (AP)

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