Euro '08: Day 3 ReviewPosted on: 10 June 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves
Holland light up Euro 2008 with a magnificent performance against Italy, whilst France play out a bore draw with Romania.
Holland hammer World Cup champtions Italy in a classic encounter in Berne, whilst France play out the first goalless draw of the tournament with Romania in the “Group of Death”.
The Dutch win will go down as one of the best matches in European Championship history, whilst France and Romania could well go down as one of the worst in the record books.
Holland produced one of the most memorable European Championship goals as they brushed aside the challenge of Italy in the game of the tournament on Monday evening.
Romania 0-0 France
Holland 3-0 Italy
The Dutch thrashed the World Cup holders 3-0 in the Swiss capital of Berne thanks to goals from Ruud van Nistelrooy, Wesley Sneijder and Giovanni van Bronckhorst.
Both sides produced moments of brilliance in the outstanding game of the tournament so far, but the game will be remembered for the outstanding second goal from Sneijder.
The early flashes of intent came from the Italians as Antonio di Natalie and Luca Toni had chances to open the scoring.
At the other end van Nistelrooy could have gone down for a penalty as he attempted to round Gigi Buffon in the Italy goal, only to lose his balance at the vital moment.
The Real Madrid striker did make amends in the 26th minute with an enormous slice of luck. Standing in what looked like an offside position, van Nistelrooy tapped in Sneijder’s half volley from inside the six-yard box.
The goal was given despite the Italian protests that followed.
Holland grew in confidence after the goal and Italy’s agony increased when the Dutch doubled their advantage five minutes later.
Van Bronckhorst made a magnificent clearance on his own line to deny Italy an equaliser and from the clearance, the Dutch full back joined a superb counter-attack to float a cross-field pass to Dirk Kuyt.
The Liverpool forward cushioned his header into the path of birthday-boy Sneijder, who turned a near close-range finish beyond Buffon for the one of the great Holland goals.
Van Nistelrooy wasted a chance to kill the game off three minutes before the interval but Holland picked up where they left off in the second period.
Italian substitute Alessandro Del Piero brought about a smart save from Holand keeper Edwin van der Saar who went on to deny Fabio Grosso and Andrea Pirlo.
But it was Holland who had the last laugh, another sweeping counter-attack from the back involving Kuyt and van Bronckhorst led to the former heading home a late third.
Dutch replacements Ibrahim Affelay and Robin van Persie came close to adding more goals for Holland with speculative efforts in the final minutes.
The Netherlands came into the tournament without being serious contenders for the title but this performance shows the Dutch class of 2008 have the quality to make an impact.
Italy Vs Romania (5pm ITV)
Holland Vs France (7.45pm BBC)
Elsewhere, France kicked off Group C on Monday afternoon looking to put down an early marker against outsiders Romania, but a lacklustre performance has left them with plenty of work to do if they are to qualify for the quarter-finals.
The French failed to breach the solid Romanian defence leaving them with an uphill task from their remaining two fixtures.
Romania were unspectacular opposition, choosing to defend from start to finish and rarely threatened their more illustrious opposition.
France were missing Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry but a French forward line including Franck Ribery, Nicolas Anelka and Karim Benzema failed to spark in a drab tie.
Both sides will still fancy their chances at qualifying for the quarter-finals but time is running out and tougher tasks are still to come, starting on Friday.
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