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Van Hooijdonk exacts revenge

Wednesday, 8 September 2004

[1] After defeats against the Czech Republic in qualifying for UEFA EURO 2004™ and then in Portugal, two goals from Pierre van Hooijdonk finally ensured the Netherlands got a measure of revenge with victory in their opening Group 1 FIFA World Cup qualifying fixture.

Van Hooijdonk double

[2] Van Hooijdonk struck in each half and goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar kept the Czech Republic at bay for long stretches as Marco van Basten got his competitive career as Netherlands coach off to a winning start.

Air of expectation

[3] There was an air of expectation as Dutch supporters welcomed the start of a new era under Van Basten. International retirements and injuries had forced changes upon the new coach, but this was very much his side, with only three players who featured in the defeat against the Czech Republic in Portugal - Van der Sar, Edgar Davids and John Heitinga - starting here.

Injured trio

[4] Like Van Basten, Czech coach Karel Brückner was forced into changes for this eagerly-anticipated rematch. Pavel Nedved, Tomás Galásek and Karel Poborský were injured so in came Roman Týce, Tomáš Hübschman and Marek Heinz. Van Basten gave Van Hooijdonk a rare start for the Netherlands and, well-supported by Dirk Kuijt and Romeo Castelen, the striker was effective at leading the attack as the home side pressed early on.

Van der Sar sensation

[5] Mark van Bommel brought the first save out of Petr Cech, but the Netherlands' confidence soon gave way to nervousness at the back, and only the brilliant Van der Sar kept the scores level. The goalkeeper saved from Tomáš Rosický, then smothered Milan Baroš' shot on the turn. The Czech Republic were in control and moments later Heinz broke clear, but his powerful strike was again turned away.

Netherlands opener

[6] Against the run of play the Netherlands turned the game around on 33 minutes. Kuijts incisive pass sent Rafael van der Vaart clear of the Czech defence and he squared the ball for Van Hooijdonk to roll in the simplest of chances.

Czechs stronger

[7] That settled the Netherlands, but the Czech Republic came out strongly after the break and almost drew level on 50 minutes, Jan Koller sending a dipping header on to the crossbar. But it was to be the Netherlands' night this time and Van Hooijdonk made sure six minutes from time when he headed in Kuijt's cross.

The Netherlands' double goalscorer Pierre van Hooijdonk wheels away in celebration