November 14, 2012

AMSTERDAM (AP) -- With both sides missing key players, the Netherlands and Germany played out a tame 0-0 draw Wednesday in an international friendly at Amsterdam Arena.

Germany had the best of the first half and the Dutch were better after the break, but neither side could find the net to end the stalemate.

Marco Reus had a chance to steal the match in injury time but blasted his shot over the bar.

By that time, many Dutch fans had already seen enough and left the stadium.

But Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal was more positive.

"I enjoyed it,'' Van Gaal said. "I enjoyed the way the Germans were able to keep the ball.''

Germany was missing the Bayern Munich trio of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos and Jerome Boateng, Lazio striker Miroslav Klose, Real Madrid midfielder Mesut Oezil and Borussia Dortmund's Marcel Schmelzer due to illness or injury.

Mario Gomez, who scored both German goals in his team's 2-1 win against the Netherlands at the European Championship, was out with an ankle injury.

Germany coach Joachim Loew praised his side for overcoming the absences.

"We were the better team in the first half, the stronger team, the more dominant team,'' he said. "We played very well against one of the best teams in Europe.''

Robin van Persie, playmaker Wesley Sneijder and midfielder Kevin Strootman were missing for the Netherlands - and it showed.

When Germany fleetingly looked threatening, it was often through the Borussia Dortmund trio of Reus, Mario Goetze and Ilkay Guendogan.

Two Dortmund forwards came closest to opening the scoring in an uninspired first half. First, Reus' low shot grazed Kenneth Vermeer's near post and then John Heitinga came to his team's rescue on the stroke of halftime by clearing a shot from Guendogan off the line to maintain the deadlock.

Arjen Robben looked the only dangerous player in the makeshift Netherlands forward line in the first half, and he came closest to opening the Dutch account on the half hour when he rounded Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer after a one-two with Ibrahim Afellay but could not cut back his shot from a tight angle.

Second-half Dutch substitute Daryl Janmaat carved out the best chance of the match in the 77th minute when he played a one-two with Dirk Kuyt and fired a low shot that Neuer did well to save.

"We were more dominant and that is impressive considering we were played off the field in the first half,'' Van Gaal said.

Van Gaal opted to play Kuyt at center forward in the absence of Van Persie, leaving prolific Schalke 04 striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar on the bench.

The Netherlands was looking for a measure of revenge for its 2-1 loss to Germany at the European Championship, one of three straight group losses that helped ensure the 2010 World Cup runner-up was eliminated and prompted the resignation of former coach Bert van Marwijk.

Germany was hoping to end the year on a high and erase memories of its semifinal loss to Italy at Euro 2012 and its humiliating collapse against Sweden in its last World Cup qualifier, when it squandered a 4-0 lead in the final half hour in a 4-4 draw.

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