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"The intellectualisation
of football has
always foundered
on a simple problem-
-the players. Doing
all your most
rewarding thinking
with your feet seems
to dull the philo-
sophical impulse.
Unless, of course,
you are Dutch.
According to legend,
Europeans played
a moronic, muscular
version of the world's
game, until Holland
proclaimed its vision
of total football in the
1974 World Cup,
and enlightenment
dawned."

From:
Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football
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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 fool him.

Norway-Netherlands 0-1 (0-0).
0-1 63' Van Bommel

Referee: Plautz (Aut).

Attendance: 25,000

Yellow cards: Hangeland, Hauger (Norway)

Norway: Knudsen, Hoiland, Waehler, Hangeland, John Arne Riise, Pedersen (77' Elyounoussi), Grindheim, Hauger (85' Helstad), Winsnes, Carew and Iversen

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)

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