All eyes were on Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal on Saturday as his side drew 1-1 at home to fellow FIFA World Cup qualifiers Ecuador.
Van Gaal has been the subject of intense speculation linking him with the vacant manager's position at Manchester United, emerging as a clear front-runner to succeed David Moyes.
The 62-year-old coach was insistent that his focus remains solely on the Netherlands until his future is cleared up in an official capacity, but media reports claim United could confirm his appointment within the next week.
Robin van Persie – who Van Gaal looks set to link up with at Old Trafford – pulled the Dutch level just before the break after tricky winger Jefferson Montero put Ecuador one up early on.
The Netherlands generally controlled the match at Amsterdam ArenA, but Van Persie and company were wasteful in front of goal as the hosts' World Cup warm-up got off to a stuttering start.
It was the home side who almost got off to a flyer, with Georginio Wijnaldum squaring across the face of goal for Memphis Depay, but the highly rated 20-year-old missed the target under pressure from Juan Carlos Paredes.
Ecuador capitalised on that let-off in the ninth minute when Joel Veltman failed to cut out Felipe Caicedo's defence-splitting pass and Montero coolly slotted past Jasper Cillessen.
The lively Wijnaldum went close to pulling the Netherlands level with 18 minutes on the clock, but his dipping half-volley flew just wide of the left-hand post.
Caicedo's World Cup hopes were cast into doubt in the 34th minute as he was forced off with an innocuous injury and things got even worse soon after as Van Persie equalised.
The United star nonchalantly brought down Jordy Clasie's long ball on the chest and smashed past the helpless Maximo Banguera eight minutes before the break.
Ecuador enjoyed an enterprising start to the second half as they appeared intent on attacking their hosts, but their chances received a blow as debutant Armando Wila – Caicedo's replacement – was carried off with a suspected thigh injury.
Netherlands should have taken the lead just after the hour mark, but Van Persie failed to connect properly with Patrick van Aanholt's low cross right in front of goal.
Van Aanholt was presented with a chance of his own in the closing stages, but the Chelsea-owned full-back's finish was tame.
Under-strength Netherlands – whose World Cup campaign starts against Spain on June 13 – were unable to force themselves in front late on and Ecuador earned a commendable draw ahead of another friendly meeting with Mexico later this month.comments