Big leap for pale Holland
Wednesday 15 October 2008
Holland beat Norway tonight in
their third game of the qualification campaign for the
2010 World Cup in South Africa.
A great volley by Mark van Bommel
was the only goal of the game in the 63rd minute.
After only three games in group
9 Holland have created a gap of five points to numbers
2 Iceland and Scotland.
The difference with the disappointing
Norwegians is even 7 points.
The comfortable lead in the group
ranking is not thanks to brilliant football.
The game on the slippery pitch
in the Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo, just like that in Rotterdam
four days ago, wasn't very entertaining.
But Van Marwijk of course had some
decent excuses for it.
After all the team were without
Sneijder and Van Persie (on the bench), Robben, De Jong,
Heitinga and Bouma and the starting lineup as it was
fielded tonight had never played together before.
On top Ryan Babel had to leave
the pitch with an injury
after only 25 minutes.
His replacement Ibrahim Afellay
had the best chance of the first half.
After a high speed counter attack
Dirk Kuyt delivered a ball to the right foot of the
PSV midfielder, but instead of cutting inside and get
the ball to his stronger left foot he opted to go straight
ahead and shoot with his weaker right foot.
The ball went 2 meters wide.
The home crowd could only cheer
for the set pieces of John Arne Riise.
The AS Roma player would often
deliver the ball with John Carew, but rarely did the
Aston Villa striker create any real danger from it.
Neither did Holland and Van Marwijk's
decision to put on Robin van Persie in the 57th minute
was only logical.
The Arsenal man replaced the invisible
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, but it was remarkable that it was
Dirk Kuyt who moved into the center forward position
with Van Persie confined to the wing.
Van Marwijk's decision almost instantly
had an effect, with the cross bar helping out Norway's
keeper Jon Knudsen.
But five minutes later the manager's
changes did pay of.
A combined effort of Van der Vaart
and Afellay down the left brought Holland a corner.
Van der Vaart's delivery was decent,
but the Norwegian seemed able to deal with it.
However the arched clearance fell
to the feet of Mark Van Bommel on the edge of the box
and with a well place volley Van Bommel beat Knudsen
to his right.
The goal deflated the Norwegians
who had been the more active team up until then, yet
despite all their huffing and puffing their delivery
into the box was always poor.
The entry of El Younoussi in the
77th minute did bring some new life to the Scandinavian
efforts, and the young Heerenveen player actually had
the biggest chance only minutes after he came on when
he turned away from Van Bronckhorst inside the box.
His finish was an easy prey for
Van der Sar.
In the second minute of added time
the blood pressure of the 500 Dutch fans in the Stadium
went up one last time when El Younoussi seemed to trip
over the knee of Van der Sar, but the referee was close
enough to have seen that the lively sub was trying to
Norway-Netherlands 0-1 (0-0).
0-1 63' Van Bommel
Referee: Plautz (Aut).
Yellow cards: Hangeland, Hauger (Norway)
Norway: Knudsen, Hoiland,
Waehler, Hangeland, John Arne Riise, Pedersen (77' Elyounoussi),
Grindheim, Hauger (85' Helstad), Winsnes, Carew and
Netherlands: Van der Sar,
Marcellis, Ooijer, Mathijsen, Van Bronckhorst, De Zeeuw,
Van Bommel, Kuijt, Van der Vaart (76' Sneijder), Babel
(26' Afellay), Huntelaar (57' Van Persie)