Zurich, Feb 14: The Netherlands beat France 4-1 in a thrilling encounter to secure their place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2008. The blues still have to secure a win after two games. The Dutch team made a strong showing from the start with Dirk Kuyt and substitute Robin van Persie putting Holland 2-0 up after an hour.
Thierry Henry managed to pull one back for France (71st minute), but another substitute, Arjen Robben, scored 30 seconds later and Wesley Sneijder completed the win in injury time with a superb strike. World Cup runners-up France will face World Cup winners Italy, who also have one point from two matches, in their final group C match on Tuesday. But both sides, who have put on rather less glorious performances in this championship, will be out if Romania beat the Netherlands on the same day. We're still trying to get our heads around this," the Netherlands' former Manchester United striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy said. "We couldn't have expected this, we didn't have the best of form in the qualifying or coming in, but now it seems it is all falling into place. Now I think the confidence is there and it's lifting the team," he added.
The Dutch, unchanged from the side that hammered Italy 3-0 in their opening match, began superbly and Kuyt put them in front on 9 minutes, beating Florent Malouda to head home from a corner.
Kuyt almost made it 2-0 with a chance soon after but France came back into the match and Sydney Govou, preferred to Nicolas Anelka, had a couple of chances, only to be denied by goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.
France came out firing after half-time and Henry, who was
restored to the starting line-up after injury, lobbed a volley just
over the bar.
The result leaves the Netherlands able to take it easy in the last game against Romania, but Van Basten dismissed any idea of allowing Romania to win to eliminate two tough rivals in France and Italy.
Van Basten said he had not considered whether he would be playing reserves for the Romania game. "We will start thinking about that game tomorrow but we will prepare for it seriously," he said.
Meanwhile France coach Raymond Domenech put a brave face on the
defeat, knowing his side's fate is no longer in his hands.
"We tried to play and win but there were some unfortunate moments. There were moments in which we set ourselves up to be successful but we had a lot of bad luck," he said.