After the attractive but for Holland desastrous match against the Czech Republic (2-3), the Dutch national team cannot reach the quarter finals of Euro 2004 by their own strength. Even when Holland defeat Latvia in the last group match, the team is dependant on the result of the match between the Czech Republic and Germany. Ajax player Johnny Heitinga started for Holland but was sent off with his second yellow fifteen minutes before the end.
If Holland defeat Latvia, the team will only go through if the Czechs do not lose to Germany. Players and coaches face a heavy task. The team have to recover from the fact that they gave away a 2-0 lead against the Czech Republic.
Heitinga was the only Ajax player to start for Holland. He faced his club-teammates Tomás Galásek and Zdenek Grygera. The latter was taken off quickly, when Holland went off to a flying start and lead by 2-0 after 20 minutes through goals by Bouma and van Nistelrooy, both from assists by Robben.
Cocu unwillingly let the opponent come back in the match when his turnover resulted in a goal by Koller after 23 minutes. Still Holland were the better team for the remainder of the first half and the start of the second. Then coach Advocaat took off his best player Robben and replaced him with Bosvelt. The substitution could not have gone worse. Holland lost the initiative and Czech star Nedved took over. Galásek also was taken off at that time. In the 71st minute Baros equalised. Four minutes later Heitinga was unjustly shown his second yellow card after a dive by Nedved. With Rafael van der Vaart in for the closing minutes Holland tried to regain the lead. Van der Vaart was close, but not close enough. Two minutes before the end Smicer sealed Holland's fate: 3-2.
Holland - Czech Rep. 2-3 (2-1). 4. Bouma 1-0, 19. Van Nistelrooy 2-0, 23. Koller 2-1, 71. Baros 2-2, 88. Smicer 2-3.
Ref.: Metujo Gonzalez (Sp). Att.: 30.000. Red card: 75. Heitinga (Holland) 2x yellow. Yellow card: Seedorf (Holland), Galásek (Czech Rep.).
Holland: Van der Sar; Stam, Cocu and Bouma; Heitinga, Seedorf (86. Van der Vaart), Cocu, Davids and Van Bronckhorst; Van der Meyde (79. Reiziger), Van Nistelrooy and Robben (59. Bosvelt).
Czech Rep.: Cech; Grygera (24. Smicer), Ujfalusi, Jiranek and Jankulovski; Poborsky, Galásek (62. Heinz), Rosicky and Nedved; Baros and Koller (75. Rozehnal).
Czech Rep. 2 2 0 0 6 5-3
Germany 2 0 2 0 2 1-1
Holland 2 0 1 1 1 3-4
Latvia 2 0 1 1 1 1-2
Czech Republic to quarter finals
Photo: Stanley Gontha/Proshots