The Dutch national team could get past Macedonia on Saturday: 2-2. In the same qualifying group, the Czech Republic defeated Romania. Belgium lost to Spain.
Holland, with Wesley Sneijder and Nigel de Jong in the starting line-up, were never able to impress gaianst the home team, that had kept England on 2-2 two years ago. Hardly any chances were created in the first half and the match seemed headed into halftime with a 0-0 score. Until goalkeeper Nikoloski wanted to prevent Bouma from heading the ball but instead put it in his own goal. But Macedonia immediately scored on the other end through Pandev.
After an hour Holland coach Marco van Basten brought on Rafael van der Vaart for Phillip Cocu and Roy Makaay for Pierre van Hooijdonk. It seemed to help as Holland got more grip on the opponent. Dirk Kuyt scored, but again Holland could not hang on to the lead; Stojkov made it 2-2.
Tomás Galásek is the new captain for the Czech Republic who hosted Bogdan Lobont's Romania on Saturday. The home team won: Lobont was unable to stop a penalty by Jan Koller, 1-0.
Wesley Sonck's Belgium lost to Spain by 2-0. The Belgians finished with only nine players after Deflandre and Goor were sent off. Tom de Mul, new in the squad, did not see any playing time.