AMSTERDAM (AP) — The Netherlands held Colombia to a 0-0 draw Tuesday despite playing for nearly an hour with 10 men after Jeremain Lens was sent off.
After an entertaining first half hour, in which both sides created scoring chances, Lens was red carded in the 35th minute for pushing over Pablo Armero after a challenge in front of the Colombia goal.
Already down to 10 men, the Netherlands then lost striker Siem de Jong and midfield playmaker Rafael van der Vaart to injuries in the space of two minutes before half time. But fourth-ranked Colombia was unable to take advantage and despite laying siege to the Dutch goal late in the second half could not find a way past Ajax goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.
The match was an enthralling test of strength for two World Cup-bound teams and the draw meant the Netherlands went through 2013 undefeated. Fourth-ranked Colombia was coming off a 2-0 win over Belgium last week while the Netherlands drew 2-2 with Japan on Saturday.
Even before the red card and injuries, the Netherlands was playing without a host of injured players, including the driving forces of its attack — Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben. "It's very difficult playing with 10 men against a team like that," Netherlands captain Kevin Strootman said. "We worked incredibly hard to keep a clean sheet."
It was Van der Vaart who came closest to breaking the deadlock before his injury, curling a left-foot shot over Farid Mondragon in the 7th minute only to see it hit the bar and De Jong miss the rebound.
Central defender Joel Veltman, making his international debut in front of his home crowd at the Amsterdam Arena, appeared to be confident but nearly gave a goal away in the 33rd minute when he was dispossessed by James Rodriguez, whose pass to Teofilo Gutierrez found the striker in an offside position.
After the break, the Netherlands continued to push forward and substitute Leroy Fer had two shots blocked after good combinations between PSV teammates Memphis Depay and Luciano Narsingh. Colombia tried to assert its numerical superiority as the match wore on, with Gutierrez and Radamel Falcao constantly creating problems without carving out clear-cut chances. Gutierrez was substituted in the 69th minute and even though his replacement Victor Ibarbo kept up the pressure in attack the Dutch defense held firm.