Holland defeated Finland in the Amsterdam ArenA on Wednesday: 3-1. Coach Marco van Basten fielded all four Ajax players in his squad: Nigel de Jong, Johnny Heitinga, Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart. Petri Pasanen made his return to Amsterdam as player of the visiting team.
The supporters were disappointed when they learned that legendary Ajax player Jari Litmanen was unable to play for Finland, but it did not stop them from giving the midfielder the biggest ovation of all players.
Finland started well and were the better side in the first phase of the qualifying match. The visitors were also first to score. Kolkka hit the crossbar and Tainio headed in the rebound: 0-1.
Then Wesley Sneijder took charge. He had been close a few times earlier and in the 39th minute the small midfielder took a pass from Cocu and blasted the ball past the Finnish goalkeeper.
Holland were quick to take the lead. After a shot on the crossbar by Kuijt, Castelen touched it to Ruud van Nistelrooy who stroked it over the goal line: 2-1, right before halftime.
After an hour Van Nistelrooy decided the match. Castelen drove past Pasanen and delivered the ball to the Manchester United striker who had no problem putting it away: 3-1.
,,Scoring that goal felt great", Sneijder said after the match. ,,We took an important step with this victory. I thought it was surprising that all four Ajax players played, but it was nice.''