Clock is tikking for losing Holland

Ajax players Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart were in the starting line-up in the Holland's final test match before the European Championship. The opponents were the Republic of Ireland, who won the match in the Amsterdam ArenA through a nice goal by Robbie Keane. In the second half the third Ajax international, Johnny Heitinga, came on for Michael Reiziger.

It was supposed to be a beautiful evening, in which the Holland players would be sent off by an enthousiastic crowd and everyone would look out for Euro 2004 with confidence.

But after the 1-0 defeat the mood was dark. More still than the result, the poor performance of the Dutch players was cause for worries. From the first minute nothing went right for Holland.

Starters Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder could not prevent the first half being full of mistakes. Johnny Heitinga came on after halftime, with Holland already down 1-0 through a long range effort by Robbie Keane. Heitinga sent one great cross to the head of Roy Makaay, whose attempt could just be boxed away by goalkeeper Given. It turned out to be the only real chance for the home team in the second half.

Holland - Ireland 0-1 (0-1). 45. Keane 0-1. Referee: Dean. Spectators: 42.000.

Holland: Van der Sar; Reiziger (46. Heitinga), Stam, Bouma (84. Van Hooijdonk), Van Bronckhorst; Sneijder (46. Seedorf, 63. Bosvelt), Cocu, Van der Vaart, Davids (46. Robben); Kluivert (46. Van der Meyde), Van Nistelrooy (66. Makaay).
Ireland: Given; Finnan, Cunningham, O'Brien, Maybury; Barrett, Holland, Quinn, Reid (88. Doyle); Keane, Morrison (83. Lee).