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Monday, June 09, 2008

Euro 2008: Netherlands Projected an Emphatic Victory over Italy in the Opening Match

Netherlands has started their Euro 2008 campaign with a stunning 3-0 victory over world champion Italy on Monday in a mind blowing encounter. The score line might make you puzzled to consider it as a mind blowing match, but the truth is that the score line is inadequate to prove what a classic match world football experienced between Netherlands and Italy in the second match of Group C, which is considered as a group of death.

Except the number of goals, the two sides were equal in terms of their attacking football. Netherlands vs Italy match was a striking contrast with the dull first matches of the day between France and Romania. Holland’s magnificent counter-attacking style of football impressed all football fans, while France also created some real chances in the match but could not score due to lack of quality finishing. This has been the first Dutch victory over Italy in the last 30 years. Italian striker Luca Toni missed two early chances for Italy, while Dutch striker Van Nistelrooy missed a chance receiving Dirk Kuyt’s pass in the 17th minute. Nistelrooy opened scoring for Holland in the 26th minute which is a controversial goal as many consider that the striker was off side.

Only five minutes later, Holland doubled their lead thanks to Nistelrooy’s Real Madrid team mate Wesley Sneijder scored from an excellent counter attack. Kuyt steered Van Bronckhorst’s long pass to find Sneijder who sent the ball into the net pretty successfully. Only three minutes before the half time, Nistelrooy missed another chance after receiving a superb pass from Sneijder, but Italian keeper Buffon was up to the mark saving Italy’s hope alive at the interval.

Italy was naturally more aggressive from the beginning of the second half of the match with creating a number of solid chances, but could not manage to score due to lack of well execution as well as superb goal keeping by Manchester United’s Champions league hero Van der Sar. Before Netherlands scored their third goal from another counter attack in the 78th minute, Van der Sar denied a number of Italian chances from Alessandro del Piero, Toni, Grosso and Pirlo. From another counter attack, Van Bronckhorst scored the third goal for Netherlands. Receiving a pass from Van Bronckhorst, Kuyt made a shot at goal which was successfully blocked by Buffon, before Kuyt regained the control of the ball and sent a cross for Van Bronckhorst to head past Buffon. Holland could have won with a bigger margin if the late attempts from Ibrahim Afellay and Robin van Persie were executed successfully.

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