05.06.2004 at 19:00 Amsterdam
0 - 1
Republic of Ireland
Referee: M Dean (England)
Van de Saar,
van de Vaart,
Heitinga for Reizeger,45
van de Metde for Sneijder, 45
Seedorf for Kluivert,45
Rbeen for Davids,66
Makaay for van Nistelroy,66
Bosvelt for Seedorf,66
van Hooijdonk for Bouma ,84
Alan Lee -> Clinton Morrison (80)
Mick Doyle -> Andy Reid (83)
Holland 0-1 Rep of Ireland
Brian Kerr’s patched-up Irish side battled to a sensational and fully deserved victory over a full-strength Holland at the Amsterdam Arena tonight (Saturday), with Robbie Keane striking a stunning winner just before half-time.
Keane had been in the groove since the first skirmishes, forcing Holland’s Fulham goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar into a full-length save after an under-hit back header by Philip Cocu after just two minutes.
English referee Mike Dean failed to spot the save and awarded a goal-kick, but the Irish side continued to cut out the running as the home team, completing their warm-up for the European Championships which begin next week, struggled to get to grips with the energy of the visitors.
Dutch manager Dick Advocaat employed an experimental diamond-midfield formation with Wesley Sneijder and Edgar Davids narrow ahead of holding Philip Cocu and Rafael van der Vaart heading the apex.
Patrick Kluivert and Ruud van Nistelrooy formed the strike force of the multi-millionaire, superstar-laden Dutch side in which there was no place for Bayern Munich’s 20-goal striker Roy Makaay and Milan’s treble Champions League winner Clarence Seedorf (Incidentally, both were second half subs, although the latter sustained an injury after just 15 minutes on the field).
In contrast, Alan Quinn – without a club after being released by Sheffield Wednesday at the end of the season – was boisterously energetic in midfield alongside the quietly effective Matt Holland, with Andy Reid showing plenty of creativity and work-rate on the left and Graham Barrett really catching the eye on the right, where he emerged with credit from his multiple tete-a-tetes with Davids and Giovanni van Bronckhorst throughout the 90 minutes.
After Keane’s early effort, the Irish side continued to cut out the running, Barrett’s scuffed effort forcing van der Sar to take no chances before Keane climbed above Cocu at the far post to head a Barrett cross over.
At the other end, Given saved from van Nistelrooy, while the notoriously dive-prone Manchester United man had a penalty claim turned down after a tangle with Kenny Cunningham inside the area.
Keane, causing headaches for Wilfred Bouma and Jaap Stam every time the ball came near him, hit the crossbar with an acrobatic effort after 22 minutes – Morrison should have done better with Barrett’s inswinging corner but got no contact on the ball, and when it broke to Keane, he rose and swiveled to fire a shot past van der Sar but the woodwork came to Holland’s rescue.
Just before half-time, a Dutch attack broke down on the edge of the Irish box and Andy Reid led the lightning counter attack. He fed Keane inside the Irish half and the Spurs man, offered an acre of space to run into, took the invitation. A brilliant decoy run by Reid took care of Stam and as Bouma backed off, Keane unleashed a powerful shot from 25 yards which flew to van der Sar’s left just inside the post.
Morrison should have doubled the lead early in the second half, finding himself unmarked following a corner and firing a left-footed volley just over after Cunningham’s headed knock-back.
Another dreadful lapse by Cocu allowed Keane through in the left channel soon afterwards and van der Sar got down well to execute an excellent save and the lanky keeper again came to the rescue later on as Stam and headless chicken Bouma got their wires crossed under pressure from Keane and Morrison.
As the game wore on, Holland – with half-time sub Andy van der Meyde in particular causing problems for Alan Maybury on the right flank – came more into the game but the Irish rearguard held on well in the main.
Given put his body in the way of a Cocu header from one nastily-inswinging corner and the Donegal man got down well to beat away a Makaay header after the sub striker for once stole a march on Andy O’Brien.
But O’Brien and Cunningham, Steve Finnan and Maybury gelled well to keep out the threat, with Quinn, Holland, Barrett and Reid retreating to add their collective weight to the defensive effort.
Advocaat, who called ashore Kluivert at half-time, eventually lost patience with van Nistelrooy as well, and the Dutch “masters” were reduced to flinging high balls into the area in the direction of Pierre van Hooijdonk as the game ticked into injury time.
They looked to have one half-chance after a ball dropped at the feet of Makaay, but Cunningham threw himself in the way to seal a morale-boosting summer victory for Kerr’s side. With the likes of Duff and Roy Keane to return, and another dozen squad members, including youngsters such as Liam Miller, unavailable for this game, the future looks decidedly brighter for Kerr than it did even a fortnight ago.
Holland (4-1-2-1-2): van der Sar – Reiziger (Heitinga, 45), Stam, Bouma (van Hooijdonk, 84), van Bronckhorst – Cocu – Sneijder (Seedorf, 45 (Bosvelt, 61)), Davids (Robben, 66)– van der Vaart – Kluivert (van der Meyde, 45), van Nistelrooy (Makaay, 66).
Rep of Ireland (4-4-2): Given – Finnan, O’Brien, Cunningham, Maybury – Barrett, Holland, A. Quinn, A. Reid (Doyle, 88) – Robbie Keane, Morrison (Lee, 83).
Referee: M. Dean (England).