- Associated Press - Friday, October 10, 2014

AMSTERDAM (AP) - The Netherlands struggled to a 3-1 victory Friday over 10-man Kazakhstan in a European Championship qualifier.

Defender Renat Abdulin gave 127th-ranked Kazakhstan a shock lead at the Amsterdam Arena with a powerful 17th-minute header from a poorly-defended corner and the Netherlands had an anxious wait until the 62nd minute when substitute Klaas Jan Huntelaar leveled.

A deflected 82nd-minute shot by Ibrahim Afellay, who started his first international in nearly two years, put the Dutch ahead before Robin van Persie’s penalty in the last minute of regulation time secured the three points and coach Guus Hiddink’s first win in three matches since taking over from Louis van Gaal after the World Cup.

“In the end, it was a good result,” said Van Persie.

In other Group A matches, the Czech Republic beat Turkey 2-1 in Istanbul and Iceland won 3-0 in Latvia to give both teams their second straight qualification victories and keep them at the top of the group.

Umut Bulut gave Turkey the lead in the eighth minute, but defender Tomas Sivok levelled seven minutes later when he headed in a corner. Borek Dockal gave the Czechs victory with a neat finish just before the hour mark.

Latvia held Iceland goalless for more than an hour before Gylfi Sigurdsson opened the scoring in the 66th minute and Aron Gunnarsson and substitute Rurik Gislason completed the comfortable victory.

The Dutch win took the Netherlands to third spot in Group A. Hiddink’s team takes on Iceland on Monday in Reykjavik, Kazakhstan hosts the Czech Republic and Turkey travels to Latvia.

In Amsterdam, Hiddink’s decision early in the second half to bring on Huntelaar produced the breakthrough his team badly needed after going behind to what was almost Kazakhstan’s only effort of the match.

The Schalke striker could have leveled only two minutes after coming on if Van Persie had passed to him unmarked in front of goal, but the Dutch captain instead flashed a shot across goal from a tight angle, prompting an angry response from Huntelaar.

“In that position, I had every right to shoot, so I thought the reaction was a bit over the top,” Van Persie said.

Huntelaar grabbed the equalizer anyway when he headed in an Afellay cross.

Two minutes later, the match turned when Baurzhan Dzholchiyev was sent off for a tackle from behind on Afellay, depleting the defensive wall the Kazakhs had erected in front of their goal.

“It was like handball. You go from left to right, left to right. You have to find the holes,” said Arjen Robben, who was a constant threat on the right flank in his first international since starring as the Dutch finished third at the World Cup.

Afellay did just that with a speculative shot in the 82nd minute that took a deflection in the crowded penalty area on its way past goalkeeper Aleksandr Mokin.

Van Persie, who had repeatedly threatened Mokin’s goal as the Dutch laid siege to the Kazakh goal, finally got on the score sheet thanks to an 89th-minute penalty.

“We can be satisfied,” Hiddink said. “In the first half we put them under pressure and it is an unwritten law that if you don’t score then you will score in the last 20 minutes.”

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