Netherlands vs France
Friday, 13th June at 20.45
If Holland beat France, they'll win the group.
Thierry Henry is back in the starting line-up, so France will hope it won't come to that.
The game started with some physical challenges by the Dutch followed
by a couple of equally strong body checks by the French. Not a yellow card shown though,
as both teams settled in.
Florent Malouda tussled with Dirk Kuyt in the French penalty, as
Giovanni Van Bronckhorst crossed from the right corner, but the Dutchman managed to
wrestle free enough to steal a header past Gregory Coupet.
It took the French half an hour to give Thierry Henry the type of ball
he cherishes; but there was a little too much pace on it.
This was the sign that France were ready to play; as Edwin Van der Sar
was forced to make two saves in the space of a few minutes.
France won't be out of the tournament if they lose this one but they
will want at least a point from this game to take into the Italy match with them.
Thierry Henry broke through in the 53rd minute and lobbed Edwin Van
der Sar, but it was a touch too high.
Marco van Basten decided to up the pressure by bringing on van Persie
and it paid dividends almost immediately, as the swift Dutch breakaway worked again; with
the two substitutes combining to pull ahead of France - just as the French looked like
getting back into the game. Coupet got his left hand to van Persie's shot, but all it did
was slow the ball down as it bobbled over the line.
With twenty minutes to go, Willy Sagnol broke down the right and
Thierry Henry was on hand in the middle to give the ball the slightest of touches to
direct it into the net.
But within a minute, Arjen Robben stunned everyone, including himself,
by getting the third for Holland; from the tightest of angles.
Ruud van Nistelrooy almost made it four for Holland as his looping
header forced Gregory Coupet to run back and tip the ball away.
With the game entering the second minute of injury time, Holland
pushed forward again; with Wesley Sneijder turning to score what must be one of the goals
of the tournament.
Seven goals against the two World Cup Finalists - Italy and France -
see Holland qualify for the quarter-finals as winners of the 'Group of Death'.
It will now be one of those two finalists who get the kiss of death;
or maybe even both of them, if Romania beat a relaxed Netherlands on Tuesday.
Netherlands 4 - France 1
1.0 - Dirk Kuyt (9)
2:0 - Robin van Persie (59)
2:1 - Thierry Henry (71)
3:1 - Arjen Robben (72)
4:1 - Wesley Sneijder (92)
1 Edwin Van der Sar; 5 Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, 4 Joris Mathijsen, 2 Andre Ooijer, 21
Khalid Boulahrouz; 23 Rafael Van der Vaart, 8 Orlando Engelaar, 17 Nigel De Jong, 10
Wesley Sneijder; 9 Ruud van Nistelrooy, 18 Dirk Kuyt.
23 Gregory Coupet; 5 William Gallas, 19 Willy Sagnol, 15 Lilian Thuram, 13 Patrice Evra; 7
Florent Malouda, 6 Claude Makelele, 10 Sidney Govou, 20 Jeremy Toulalan, 22 Franck Ribery;
12 Thierry Henry.
Herbert Fandel (Germany)
46 Mins - 11 Arjen Robben on for 8 Orlando Engelaar
55 Mins - 7 Robin van Persie on for 18 Dirk Kuyt
60 Mins - 18 Bafetimbi Gomis on for 7 Florent Malouda
75 Mins - 8 Nicolas Anelka on for 10 Sidney Govou
78 Mins - 14 Wilfred Bouma on for 23 Rafael Van der Vaart
3 Yellow Cards:
32 Mins - Claude Makelele (France)
52 Mins - Andre Ooijer (Netherlands)
82 Mins - Jeremy Toulalan (France)
Italy vs Romania