England’s momentum from their impressive victory in Germany was halted as Holland came from behind to beat Roy Hodgson’s men 2-1 at Wembley.
Jamie Vardy put the Three Lions ahead at the end of the first half, but Vincent Janssen’s penalty and Luciano Narsingh’s goal 13 minutes from time sealed England’s defeat.
Here are five things we learned from the friendly.
1. Holland delivered a timely reality check
The 3-2 win in Germany was rightly greeted with optimism and excitement about England’s emerging crop of talent, but, if a dose of realism were needed, Holland provided it. England lacked the urgency and verve they showed in Berlin and, while Vardy’s goal came at the end of a sumptuous team move, defensive frailties at the other end once again served to check any overblown expectations for the summer. England are a work in progress and this display highlighted as much.
2. Drinkwater’s debut was assured if unspectacular
Danny Drinkwater is not the sort of player to light up a game with a moment of brilliance, but instead he put in the kind of controlled performance that has made him so integral to Leicester’s success this season. He kept the ball with intelligence and composure, allowing the more creative players in front of him to do their work unrestrained and, while it may not be enough to put him ahead of Eric Dier in the current pecking order, there was undoubtedly enough in Drinkwater’s display to suggest he can be an important member of Hodgson’s final squad.
3. Vardy’s form is too hot to ignore
The Leicester striker was arguably the biggest winner from England’s two friendlies, scoring twice and giving further ammunition to those who believe he warrants a place ahead of captain Wayne Rooney. Harry Kane’s fine finish against Germany and his own superb form for Tottenham has certainly made it extremely difficult for Hodgson to pick the Manchester United striker ahead of either of the in-form duo. Rooney has three more friendlies to make his case and Hodgson may yet plump for all three.
4. Full-backs are crucial to England’s success
Vardy’s goal against Germany came after a cross from the right-back, then Nathaniel Clyne, and so it was again as Kyle Walker this time cut the ball back for the Leicester man to sweep home. England’s full-backs were their best attacking outlet throughout, with Danny Rose also posing a threat down the left, and Hodgson should be brave enough to give freedom to what are positions of attacking strength. He might even consider replicating Tottenham’s policy of rotating on both sides during Euro 2016 to keep the likes of Rose and Walker fresh.
5. Football shows its power to unite again
England’s last home game at Wembley, against France, witnessed a series of moving tributes to those killed in last year’s terror attacks in Paris and there was another poignant show of unity again here as the stadium impeccably observed a minute’s silence before the match in memory of the victims of last week’s attacks in Brussels, while the players wore black armbands. Johan Cruyff was also remembered as supporters gave the Holland great a standing ovation in the 14th minute. Cruyff, who died of cancer last Thursday, wore the number 14 during his career.