Match against Holland is worst defeat since 1982
Holland’s 4-1 victory means that France must beat world champions Italy on Tuesday.16 June 2008
BERNE - The battered and bruised France team woke up Saturday morning still barely able to believe how Holland had inflicted their worst defeat in almost three decades the night before.
Goals from Dirk Kuyt, Wesley Sneijder and second half substitutes Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben knocked the stuffing out of France and left the Oranje army marching on to join Portugal and Croatia in the last eight.
France now need to beat world champions Italy in their last Group C game in Zurich on Tuesday and at the same time pray Romania don't grab all three points from the buoyant Dutch.
What was most galling for Les Bleus was that their worst defeat since 1982, a 4-0 friendly drubbing from Poland, came despite them playing with attacking vigour and creating a multitude of chances.
For France keeper Gregory Coupet, in his first major competition since taking over the mantle as number one from Fabian Barthez, he was left to contemplate his worst night for Les Bleus.
"It's not the end of the world but it's a huge knock. I've never had such a reverse on the international scene.
"But we weren't humiliated, we had chances. As for them, they had an incredible success.
"Now we have to lean on the good atmosphere in our group in a bid to bounce back against Italy."
Coupet added: "The Dutch have players of great quality. Honestly, that team has everything!"
Thierry Henry, who scored France's consolation goal, described the loss as "difficult to accept".
The Barcelona striker took issue with German referee Herbert Fandel for not giving a penalty in the 50th minute when Andre Ooijer appeared to get a hand to his shot.
"I saw Ooijer touch the ball with his hand. He should have had a red card.
Referees see things differently."
France's all time top scorer with 45 goals added: "It's hard because on the commitment and playing level we weren't ridiculous. But at the end of the day we were up against a Dutch side in great form.
"It was a bizarre game, I haven't had many like that in my career where we had lots of opportunities, we played well, but at the end we lost 4-1.
"Now we know that we have to beat Italy whilst Romania must beat Holland. It's 'doeble' but it's' going to be a knife edge game with the Italians."
For Bayern Munich defender Willy Sagnol the lopsided scoreline didn't do justice to the game.
"4-1 doesn't reflect what happened," he said.
"The Dutch were efficient but we produced some interesting play. When they didn't have the ball they weren't comfortable. But hey, they scored at the best moments."
Attacker Sydney Govou was having difficulty accepting the bare facts of the defeat.
"4-1 - it's far too heavy a defeat. Their success is insolent."
Chelsea's Claude Makelee, who picked up a yellow card, felt the Dutch's early first goal via Kuyt's header had been decisive.
"Conceding an early goal destabilised us. We were well in place but they did what they had to. They made us run.
"We came back to 2-1 which gave us time to breathe then their third goal cut the ground from under our feet.
"It's a shame. Now we have to try to win the last match. It doesn't only depend on us, there's also the result of the Dutch game against Romania.
"But we have to remain solid and try to go all out in the last game.
"If we're going to leave we have to leave with our heads held high."
The mood over in the Dutch camp was understandably very different.
"Pinch me to show I'm not dreaming," said van Persie, who with Robben came on as a second half substitute.
"I've had a difficult season, but what we're experiencing at the moment makes me forget my black period.
"We really weren't expecting to beat the world champions and the vice woorld champions!"
Robben, like van Persie back from injury and who produced Holland's third goal, an unbelievable effort from an impossibly tight angle, added: "It's amazing to join a team like this. This is a deserved success which must be put down in a large part to the daring of coach Marco van Basten."
[AFP / Expatica]