Shamik Das

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ruud's goal WAS onside, capisce?

On side and on target: Ruud van Nistelrooy fires Holland ahead

Stade de Suisse Wankdorf, Berne,
European Championships, Group C:

Netherlands 3-0 Italy

THE Italian conspiracy theorists were out in force today, with everyone from Fat Tony to Luca Toni accusing Swedish referee Peter Fröjdfeldt of Dutch favouritism.

The reason for their ref-rage was the failure to disallow Ruud van Nistelrooy's 26th-minute opener for offisde, the prelude to last night's crushing defeat for the world champions.

Though common sense dictates that the Italians are right, the rules of the game suggest otherwise, with article 11.4.1 of the refereeing code stating that "an opposing player cannot be offside when one of the last two defenders has left the field of play".

The rule is in place to stop defenders deliberately stepping off the pitch to cynically play an attacker offside, although in this case Cristian Panucci was bundled off the pitch by keeper Gianluigi Buffon, lying prone behind the goal as van Nistelrooy turned home Wesley Sneijder's fierce 20-yard strike, in no way interfering with play.

To his credit, Italy boss Roberto Donadoni refused to blame the defeat on the officials. "We had an off-day," he said. "The game started badly and finished terribly for us.

"Our intention was not to start this tournament and concede a 3-0 defeat. I was not surprised by Holland's display, they played as we expected them to play.

"The first goal complicated our lives and I thought we were very naive in the second goal. We reacted well in the second half and despite having chances, it was not to be."

The controversy is the latest in a series of incidents at major tournaments to have enraged the Azzuri, in spite of the fact they only have themselves to blame for their failures.


USA '941994 WORLD CUP: Runners-up

Gianfranco Zola's early 2nd round sending off v Nigeria, who led until the 88th minute.

Roberto Baggio and Franco Baresi missing their penalties as Brazil triumphed in final.

Euro '96EURO 96: Group stage

German keeper Andreas Köpke wasn't dismissed for conceding a penalty.

Zola missing the spot-kick as Italy failed to beat Germany in decisive group match.

France '981998 WORLD CUP: Quarter-finals

Hosts France given preferential treatment by officials.

Baggio's wayward extra-time volley and Luigi Di Biaggio's penalty miss.

Euro 2000EURO 2000: Runners-up

Too much injury time was played, enabling Silvain Wiltord to equalise.

Allesandro Del Piero missed a hatful of chances to put Italy 2-0 up.

Japan and South Korea '022O02 WORLD CUP: Second round

Some bizarre pro-host refereeing decisions which resulted in a golden goal defeat.

Francesco Totti, later sent-off, missing a gilt-edged opportunity at 1-0.

Euro 2004EURO 2004: Group stage

Sweden and Denmark cooked-up a 2-2 draw in their final group game to progress.

The Italian defence allowing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to back-heel an equaliser.

Germany '062006 WORLD CUP: Champions

Italy's controversial 2nd round win over Australia ensured they had no complaints.

Marco Materrazi getting himself butted by Zinedine Zidane in the final.


To dwell on van Nistelrooy's opener, however, would not do justice to Holland's performance, as the European Championships burst into life in the tournament's best game so far.

Sneijder and Giovanni van Bronckhorst scored two of the great counter-attacking goals, a combination of searing pace, pin-point passing and deadly finishing inflicting upon the world champions their heaviest defeat since the 1970 World Cup final.

The Dutch evoked the spirit of Carlos Alberto, Rivelino, Tostao, Jairzinho and co, as well as their own past masters van Basten, Gullit, Cruyyf and Neeskens in the biggest match played in Berne since the 1954 World Cup final, when the "mighty Magyars" of Kocsis, Hidegkuti and Puskás were stunned by Josef "Sepp" Herberger's Germany.

First, on 31 minutes, van Bronckhorst cleared off the line, then ran the length of the pitch to latch on to Rafael van der Vaart's 40-yard cross-field pass before steadying himself to cross to Dirk Kuyt, who laid off his header for Sneijder to smash the ball past Buffon on the half-volley.

Then, after Edwin van der Sar had brilliantly saved Andrea Pirlo's 80th-minute free kick, Sneijder, van Bronckhorst and Kuyt again combined to launch a lightning end-to-end break, this time Kuyt crossing for van Bronckhorst to head home.

"It was an historic feat," drooled Holland coach Marco van Basten. "This was against Italy, the world champions!

"To win 3-0 against Italy, a team with so much experience and quality in their team, we didn't expect that. It was a truly good performance from everyone. I am happy and proud, but this is only a first step."

"They fought like a team and if the spirit is like it was tonight, with all the quality we have, we can have nice dreams."

Star Man: Sneijder (Netherlands); Entertainment: *****
Watch extended highlights of Holland v Italy


Blogger Ewan Watt said...

"Francesco Totti, later sent-off, missing a gilt-edged opportunity at 1-0."

I'm almost 100% certain is was Vieri who missed the chance at the end.

01 July, 2008 15:27

Blogger Shamik said...

Yes, correct! Vieri missed a hatful of chances that night.

Totti was just guilty of being a twat! And the ref was a c***!

03 July, 2008 13:07


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