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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dutch Courage Shows Up the Danes




ROTTERDAM, Netherlands -- Dutch fans feasted on good soccer, the Danes swallowed their disappointment and coach Frank Rijkaard ate humble pie as the Netherlands finally displayed the kind of play that made it the favorite at Euro 2000.


After a less-than-impressive victory against Euro '96 runner-up Czech Republic in their opening match last Sunday f featuring a second-half collapse and a lucky 1-0 escape f the Dutch team had been criticized by both supporters and coach alike, and eyed hungrily by a desperate Danish team.


On Friday, however, the Netherlands' 3-0 victory over the Danes eliminated the Nordic team while securing its own place in the quarterfinals, humbling both critics and coach of the co-host team.


Rijkaard had stunned his players the day before with declarations that his players were lacking the "Holy Fire" other teams at the tournament were showing.


"When I watch the games on TV, I'm struck by the incredible determination of teams and players to give more than 100 percent not only for themselves but for the whole team," Rijkaard marveled at a news conference Thursday. "Italy has shown fantastic spirit, the Turks are fighters and Belgium has played outstanding football, with so much team spirit and will.


"Holland hasn't shown that yet."


But Friday, despite a sluggish opening half, the Dutch players pulled together in the second to provide the kind of soccer that fans had been waiting for f and make Rijkaard eat his words.


"It's good for the fans," said striker Patrick Kluivert, who scored the Netherlands' first goal. "The criticism from Rijkaard before the match was a challenge for us. This showed we can make it as a team.


Rijkaard, on his side, was gracious enough to admit his players had finally shown mettle and unity. "They put on collective pressure as a team. You can only be complimentary to the players," Rijkaard said.


In their final Group D match, the Netherlands will take on reigning World Cup champion France, which also reached the quarterfinal after defeating the Czechs 2-1 earlier in the evening.


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Group A


Team P W D L F A Pts


Portugal 2 2 0 0 4 2 6


England 2 1 0 1 3 3 3


Germany 2 0 1 1 1 2 1


Romania 2 0 1 1 1 2 1


England 1, Germany 0


Portugal 1, Romania 0


Tuesday's games


England vs. Romania 10:45 p.m.


Portugal vs. Germany 10:45 p.m.


Group B


Team P W D L F A Pts


Italy 2 2 0 0 4 1 6


Belgium 2 1 0 1 2 3 3


Sweden 2 0 1 1 1 2 1


Turkey 2 0 1 1 1 2 1


Group C


Team P W D L F A Pts


Yugoslavia 2 1 1 0 4 3 4


Norway 2 1 0 1 1 1 3


Spain 2 1 0 1 2 2 3


Slovenia 2 0 1 1 4 5 1


Yugoslavia 1, Norway 0


Spain 2, Slovenia 1


Group D


Team P W D L F A Pts


France 2 2 0 0 5 1 6


Netherlands 2 2 0 0 4 0 6


Czech Rep. 2 0 0 2 1 3 0


Denmark 2 0 0 2 0 6 0


France 2, Czech Republic 1


Netherlands 3, Denmark 0