Qantas Socceroos break even with Dutch

The Qantas Socceroos have held European powerhouse the Netherlands to a 0-0 draw in a hard-fought international friendly played in front of 40,537 fans at the Sydney Football Stadium.

The Qantas Socceroos have held European powerhouse the Netherlands to a 0-0 draw in a hard-fought international friendly played in front of 40,537 fans at the Sydney Football Stadium.

While the Dutch, ranked third in the world, created the best of the chances they were unable to breach the resolute Australian defence.

The result extends Australia's unbeaten record against the Dutch to three matches having now managed a win and two draws against coach Pim Verbeek's countrymen.

It's the first time in 27 matches the Orange have failed to score a goal.

The competitive encounter will serve as the perfect preparation for Wednesday's crucial Asian Cup qualifier against Oman at Etihad Stadium.

Both coaches employed a 4-2-3-1 formation to start the clash but it was the visitors, wearing an all-blue strip in place of their traditional orange, who enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges.

Persistent rain made conditions tough for both sides but the Dutch looked right at home from the opening whistle.

Liverpool star Dirk Kuyt fired the first warning shot of the contest when he sent a dangerous cross into the box from the right for Klass Jan Huntelaar who sent his header over the bar.

Huntelaar was on the receiving end of another golden chance two minutes later but again failed to make the hosts pay after getting in behind the Australian defence.

The hosts were dealt a blow in the 16th minute when Vince Grella was forced from the field with a thigh injury with Carl Valeri inserted into the action.

While the Qantas Socceroos struggled to find their rhythm in attack the visitors continued to threaten with Wesley Sneijder forcing a 20th-minute save from Mark Schwarzer before Khalid Boulahrouz hit the side netting less than a minute later.

Brett Holman fired Australia's first shot in anger in the 24th minute forcing a regulation save from Maarten Stekelenburg in the Dutch goal.

The visitors answered almost immediately when a diving Demy de Zeeuw forced another save from Schwarzer as the teams headed into the break locked at 0-0.

Pim Verbeek made three changes to start the second half with Brett Emerton, Patrick Kisnorbo and Dario Vidosic replacing Josh Kennedy, Craig Moore and Tim Cahill.

The visitors made just the one substitution with Kuyt making way for club team-mate Ryan Babel.

Despite the change in personnel it was more of the same to start the second stanza with the Oranje continuing to pressure the hosts, Eljero Elia finding the target twice in the opening 13 minutes but Schwarzer was again up to the task.

Huntelaar was back in the action minutes later, and while his header found the mark defender Luke Wilshire was on hand to defuse the situation.

The Dutch continued to pepper their opponents but the Socceroos very nearly stole an historic victory two minutes from full-time when Brett Holman found space in behind the defence only to push his right-foot strike just wide.

Australia 0 Netherlands 0

Australia's starting line-up: Mark Schwarzer (gk); Lucas Neill (c), Craig Moore (Patrick Kisnorbo 45'), Tim Cahill (Brett Emerton 45'), Jason Culina, Luke Wilkshire, Josh Kennedy (Dario Vidosic 45'), Harry Kewell, Vincenzo Grella (Carl Valeri 16', Mile Jedinak 71'), Brett Holman, David Carney

Subs not used: Mile Jedinak, Scott Chipperfield, Rhys Williams, Ante Covic (gk), Nick Carle, Mark Milligan,

Cautions: Carl Valeri (61')

Netherlands' starting line-up: Maarten Stekelenburg (gk), Khalid Boulahrouz, John Heitinga, Joris Mathijsen, Giovanni van Bronckhorst (c) (Edson Braafheid 77'), Demy de Zeeuw (David Mendes da Silva 84'), Dirk Kuyt (Ryan Babel 45'), Stijn Schaars (Rafael Van der Vaart 65'), Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Wesley Sneijder, Wesley Sneijder (Orlando Engelaar 70)

Subs not used: Michel Vorm (gk), Piet Velthuizen (gk)

Cautions: Stijn Schaars (37')