Van Marwijk defends Dutch choices
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Coach Bert van Marwijk accepted responsibility for the Netherlands' UEFA EURO 2012 exit on Sunday but stood by the tactical decisions he took in a bid to stave off elimination.

The Netherlands lost 2-1 to Portugal at Kharkiv's Metalist Stadium in their final Group B game, after a Cristiano Ronaldo brace cancelled out Rafael van der Vaart's early opener for the Dutch.

It left the Netherlands without a single point after earlier losses to Denmark and Germany, and the latter's 2-1 win over Denmark in the other final pool game meant Van Marwijk's side would not have qualified even if they had won.

Van Marwijk had bolstered his team's attacking resources by introducing both Van der Vaart and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to his starting XI, and he said it was a risk that he had no option but to take.

"I did say before that this was a special situation because if you play a final or a first game, a draw is OK," he explained.

"It can go to extra time and penalties (in the knockout rounds). But we knew we had to win by a two-goal margin so we had to take that risk and go forward.

"Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. At the start it went well, then afterwards it didn't.

"We're just disappointed. It wasn't a good game at all today. I'm responsible for that and I'm disappointed."

It's the same team as two years ago, except for two positions.
Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk

Van Marwijk also defended his decision to move playmaker Wesley Sneijder to the left flank in order to accommodate Huntelaar up front, with Robin van Persie dropping deeper into Sneijder's usual, central role.

Asked to explain the thinking behind the decision, Van Marwijk replied: "Because Robin van Persie is also one of the best number 10s in the world.

"We have very good attacking players and we have to make choices based on that. Sneijder has played on the left in Italy as well this season."

Van Marwijk pinpointed a misplaced back-pass by right-back Gregory van der Wiel in the first half, which presented Helder Postiga with a clear sight of goal, as the moment "uncertainty" set in among his back four.

"After the back-pass from Gregory (when Netherlands led 1-0), there was a lot of uncertainty in the team," he said at his post-game press conference.

"I don't really know what happened. It didn't happen in the first game (a 1-0 loss to Denmark). We had lots of chances to turn the game in our favour but due to that loss against Denmark, that's where the uncertainty started."

Van Marwijk also defended his attempts to rejuvenate a side that finished runners-up to Spain at the last FIFA World Cup™ in 2010.

"It's the same team as two years ago, except for two positions," he said.

"We tried to make the team faster and a little bit younger, and make it better in terms of strength in depth. I knew it wouldn't be easy to do what we did two years ago. It didn't work from the first game onwards."

Despite an inevitable air of resignation, Van Marwijk refused to discuss his future at the Dutch helm, having last year signed a new contract that runs until 2016.

"I've just lost a third game here at the tournament. You can ask me all types of questions, but not about my future."