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Cruyff remembered as France beat Netherlands 3-2

Reuters logo Reuters 26-03-2016

France captain Blaise Matuidi struck late to snatch a 3-2 win over the Netherlands in a thriller as fans and players paid tribute to Johan Cruyff's memory with a minute's applause in Friday's friendly.

Early goals from Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud had put France in control at the Amsterdam Arena, but Luuk de Jong pulled one back just after halftime and substitute Ibrahim Afellay equalised with a long range shot five minutes from time.

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Matuidi's 86th minute goal handed France a deserved victory as they continued their preparations ahead of hosting Euro 2016, which the Netherlands surprisingly failed to qualify for.

Griezmann fired home a sixth minute free kick before fellow forward Giroud reacted quickest to a loose ball in the penalty area to extend the visitors' lead in the 13th minute.

The referee then stopped the game for 60 seconds as the players led the crowd in loud applause for three-time European Footballer of the Year Cruyff, who died on Thursday aged 68.

The break in the 14th minute was a homage to Cruyff, who wore the No. 14 shirt, but France disappointed home hopes of remembering the Netherlands's most famous player with a win.

Cruyff, who was a runner-up in the 1974 World Cup final, scored 33 goals in 48 games for his country and won three European Cups with Ajax Amsterdam in the early 1970s as well as taking Barcelona to the European title as manager in 1992.

EARLY BREAKTHROUGH

Griezmann slammed his free kick into the net for the early breakthrough before Giroud added the second when the Dutch defence failed to clear a corner and Matuidi's header back into the area saw the striker swivel sharply on to the chance.

Home goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen needed sharp reflexes to keep out Griezmann's glancing header in the 25th and France's Dimitri Payet struck the base of the post on the hour after a strong run and shot from midfield.

In between, the Dutch got a goal back when a curling free kick from halftime substitute Memphis Depay was bundled home by De Jong, who missed with an attempted header but scored with a combination of chest and arm, unseen by the referee.

Depay's Manchester United team mate, France striker Anthony Martial, also came on at the break along with Leicester City midfielder Ngolo Kante, who made his debut for the visitors.

Afellay, a late call-up to the Netherlands squad, hammered home the leveller from distance after a corner that was pulled back to him outside the penalty area.

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But Dutch hopes of a comeback were quashed within 60 seconds when Martial set up Matuidi, wearing Cruyff's favourite No. 14, who squeezed the ball in at the near post for the winner.

France play Russia at Stade de France on Tuesday as they continue their warm-up for the Euros, while the Dutch travel to Wembley Stadium to face Euro 2016 finalists England.

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