Dutch Euro 2004 dream alive
28 June 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Jubilation mixed with relief erupted across the Netherlands on Saturday night as the Dutch national soccer team won its way to a Euro 2004 semi-final battle against Portugal by putting an end to a decade of penalty shoot-out traumas.
28 June 2004
AMSTERDAM — Jubilation mixed with relief erupted across the Netherlands on Saturday night as the Dutch national soccer team won its way to a Euro 2004 semi-final battle against Portugal by putting an end to a decade of penalty shoot-out traumas.
The Netherlands will now take on the European Championship host nation in Lisbon at 8.45pm Dutch time on Wednesday, with the match to be telecast live on Nederland 2. Portugal will enter the match favoured to defeat the Dutch and the winner will qualify for next weekend's final.
The Dutch did it the hard way on Saturday, slugging it out with Sweden in a heart-stopping match that ended 0-0 after 90 minutes. With both teams close to scoring a winning goal, the 30 minutes of extra time ended at 0-0 as well, propelling the combatants into a sudden death penalty shoot-out.
The Netherlands does not have fond memories of penalties and Dutch fans can be excused for looking on with grim forebodings. Up until Saturday, the national team had never won a European Championship or World Cup final in a penalty shoot-out, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.
Penalty shoot-outs in the quarter-finals of the European Championship against Denmark in 1992, the European Championship quarter-final against France in 1996, the World Cup semi-final against Brazil in 1998 and the European Championship quarter-final against France in 2000 all ended in confidence-battering losses.
But Dutch media was filled over the weekend of reports that the nation's penalty horrors have now been consigned to the past, as goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar determinedly blocked a shot from Sweden's Olaf Mellberg and Dutch young blood Arjen Robben coolly slotted the winning goal to give the Dutch a 5-4 win.
Played in the Algarve city Faro, the penalty shoot-out saw Ruud van Nistelrooij, Johnny Heytinga, Michael Reiziger and Roy Makaay also kick truly for the Netherlands, while Philip Cocu missed when his penalty rebounded from the pole.
For the Swedes, Kim Källström, Henrik Larsson, Fredrik Ljungberg and Christian Wilhelmsson beat the Dutch keeper. Zlatan Ibrahimovic shot the ball over the net.
Meanwhile, research bureau Intomart said 10.9 million Dutch fans watched Saturday's match, making it the fourth best watched football match of all time, trailing last week's duel against Latvia, when the Dutch prevailed 3-0, news agency Novum reported.
Dutch football association KNVB is now advising fans against travelling to Portugal for Wednesday's clash, asserting that it will be difficult to obtain tickets for the semi-final duel. Tickets from scalpers are also in short supply.
The KNVB is expecting 13,000 Dutch fans to watch the semi-final from the 50,000-seat José Alvalade Stadium. The association personally had 8,682 tickets to sell, all of which have been eagerly snatched up.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news