Monday, 9 June 2008

[Euro 2008] Netherlands 3-0 Italy

World champions Italy got off to a disastrous Euro 2008 start, losing 3-0 to the Netherlands which included an extremely controversial opening goal in Berne.

Group C - Matchday 1
Stade de Suisse, Berne
Netherlands took a firm grip on Euro 2008's so-called "Group of Death" by winning a classic encounter with Italy. Ruud van Nistelrooy put the Dutch ahead in controversial circumstances after 26 minutes when he scored from close range - but replays showed he was suspiciously offside. Wesley Sneijder swept in a second from Dirk Kuyt's header five minutes later after the Azzurri had a great chance to equalise from an Andrea Pirlo corner kick, but it was cleared off the line by Van Bronckhorst with Edwin Van Der Sar beaten. The Dutch keeper then denied Italy with stunning saves from Fabio Grosso and Andrea Pirlo before Giovanni van Bronckhorst headed in after 80 minutes.

The tournament has made a low-key start, but this was a game to set any tournament alight as the Dutch played in a stunning counter-attacking style and Roberto Donadoni's side also showed flashes of brilliance, despite ending up well beaten.

Holland are now in pole position to qualify after France's dismal goalless draw with Romania, but Italy - even in defeat - suggested they can still go through from this tough group. The Azzurri play Romania on Friday in a must-win game, while the Dutch can secure qualification with a win against France.

Netherlands: Van der Sar, Ooijer, Boulahrouz (Heitinga 77), Mathijsen, Van Bronckhorst, Kuyt (Afellay 81), De Jong, Van der Vaart, Engelaar, Sneijder, van Nistelrooy (Van Persie 70).
Italy: Buffon, Panucci, Barzagli, Materazzi (Grosso 55), Zambrotta, Ambrosini, Pirlo, Gattuso, Camoranesi (Cassano 75), Toni, Di Natale (Del Piero 64).

[Euro 2008 Group C]

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