Monday, June 9, 2008

Like, Totally Awesome!

We're back, baby! The days of total football are no longer a thing of the past. The Oranje destroyed the Azzuri, reigning World Cup champions to the glorious tune of 3-zip. Coming into the European Championships, Holland had maintained the best defensive record, but chose to accompany it with a paradoxically empty score card. Not anymore. van Basten's boys have at long last found the middle of the road, and did they ever ride the camber tonight.
In the 9th minute, my screams for a penalty were waived away by the referee but just under half an hour later, Ruud van Nistelrooij slotted home whilst veteran Italian Christian Panucci lay "injured," voiding the offside rule. Ruud himself stood for a moment in disbelief, but quickly was embraced by his ecstatic teammates. All chatter of a training-ground fracas was dispelled after the Dutch came together in unity. 5 minutes later, Holland was once again reaping the rewards of a youthful squad sprinkled with a handful of established veterans.
Gio van Bronckhorst cleared off the line, setting up a break that eventually saw Dirk Kuyt tee up Galactico, Wesley Sneijder for a volley not far off that of his coach, the legendary Marco van Basten. Holland continued to dominate through to the interval, with Orlando Engelaars particularly impressive despite the Italians taking a liking to kicking anything that moved, Dutchman or football. Indeed, van Nistelrooij was robbed of penalty after once more being kicked by Massimo Ambrosini.
After the break, the Italians began to ratchet up the pressure on the boys in orange, but despite some shaky defending, the Dutch managed to reassert themselves with around a quarter of an hour to go. Indeed, the turning point in the second half came when Edwin van der Sar saved magnificently off a Andrea Pirlo free-kick. His teammates quickly broke in on Gigi Buffon thanks to some wonderful passing play from Gio van Bronckhorst and Rafael van der Vaart. After Dirk Kuyt's initial attempt to lob Buffon was rebuffed, the Liverpool man crossed to van Bronckhorst who knocked the header into the goal off a helpless Italian defender.
The Dutch maintained the clean sheet after Luca Toni was unlucky to see his shot deflect of a fellow Italian, but ultimately, the Oranjes were far superior, more or less deserving the 3-0 scoreline.

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