Oranjes frustrated as Aussies see red

 

Holland 1 Australia 1: Ruud van Nistelrooy's 27th international goal was not enough to see Holland to victory in a bad-tempered clash with 10-man Australia.

Van Nistelrooy, whose Manchester United future is open to considerable doubt following his much-publicised bust-up with Sir Alex Ferguson, looked lively and sharp throughout a contest the hosts should have won with ease.

Instead, they were pegged back in bizarre fashion by Tim Cahill, just two minutes after the Everton man's arrival as a second-half substitute, and then limped to the final whistle leaving coach Marco van Basten to assess the damage inflicted by the Socceroos' physical approach.

Philip Cocu and Wesley Sneijder were obvious casualties either side of the break, with the latter man looking a serious doubt for the World Cup after being carried off four minutes after the re-start.

He sustained what appeared to be an ankle injury when he accidentally crashed into an opponent after launching a volley at the Australian goal.

Former Arsenal star Giovanni van Bronckhorst also departed early, a victim of a wild challenge from Luke Wilkshire by the corner flag which rightly earned the Bristol City man a red card.

The Dutch players reacted with fury to the tackle, which came just minutes after Wilkshire was booked for a similar assault on Marc van Bommel.

Premier League referee Mike Dean won few friends among the home support for his handling of the game, missing a blatant first-half handball by Vince Grella when the Dutch were leading, then awarding Australia a penalty when Andre Ooijer hauled back Mark Viduka.

Although Viduka blasted the spot-kick against the bar, the rebound cannoned onto a post off Edwin van der Sar, then when Van Bommel's attempted clearance flew straight at his own goalkeeper, Cahill was on hand to tap home seconds into his first competitive outing since injuring his knee on Everton duty against Birmingham in April.

With tempers threatening to boil over completely, the remainder of the contest took on the air of a kicking match.

Amid the frenzy, Van Nistelrooy, who had given Holland a ninth-minute lead when he clinically finished off after Mark Schwarzer had parried Ooijer's shot into his path, was twice denied by the Middlesbrough keeper, who had a fine afternoon.

Robin van Persie, outstanding in the first half, also came agonisingly close on two occasions, the second in the final minute when he rapped a 20-yard free-kick against a post.