Netherlands Crush Italy in Euro 2008 Upset | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 10.06.2008
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Netherlands Crush Italy in Euro 2008 Upset

In a stunning Euro 2008 upset, the Netherlands went on the attack to beat world champions Italy 3-0. It was the highlight of tournament to date and made up for the scoreless draw between France and Romania.

Italy's Gennaro Gattuso, right, challenges Netherlands' Wesley Sneijder

The Netherlands took early control of the game

Day three of the Euro provided some of the most entertaining and most lackluster soccer of the tournament to date with two games that could hardly have been more different.

The Dutch put on a stunning performance, sinking Italy in their opening match of Euro 2008 on Monday, June 9. The team stormed out of the blocks against the Azzurri and deservedly went ahead after 26 minutes when Ruud van Nistelrooy tapped home Wesley Sneijder's cross from what appeared a blatantly offside position. The Real Madrid striker was onsides thanks to Italian defender Christian Pannuci.

Italy was clearly missing the calming influence of the injured Fabio Cannavaro in defence and fell further behind just five minutes later when Sneijder rifled home Dirk Kuyt's cross from a narrow angle.

No stopping the Oranje

An Italian fan reacts after the group C match between the Netherlands and Italy

It was not a good night for Italian fans

A brilliant defense-splitting pass by Rafael van der Vaart nearly gave Van Nistelrooy his second of the game two minutes from the break but Gianluigi Buffon was quickly off his line to block the shot.

Italy got their game together after the break -- although the Dutch remained dangerous on the counter -- and nearly reduced the deficit through Fabio Grosso in the 78th minute while a minute later Edwin van der Sar saved brilliantly from an Andrea Pirlo free-kick.

But they couldn't stop the Dutch from scoring their third as Kuyt's cross found Giovanni van Bronckhorst and his header was pushed over the line by Gianluca Zambrotta.

"I would not have dreamed of such a start," said Dutch coach van Basten, who went on to downplay his side's victory. "I do not think that we are now favorites, even though we played well. I did not expect such a result because we were playing against Italy and they have so much experience and quality."

France-Romania game a sleeper

Dutch team celebrates its victory

The Dutch team is well-positioned for quarter finals

While the encounter in Berne lived up to its billing as clash of two of the world's top sides, the game in Zurich between World Cup finalists France and Romania, the team that finished ahead of the Dutch in qualifying, was a painfully dull affair.

Romania failed to create a single goal chance of note in the 90 minutes while France's best chance fell to Karim Benzema on 57 minutes but the Lyon forward's tame shot from 18 meters was easily saved by goalkeeper Bogdan Lobont.

The draw probably helps Italy's chances of progressing as victory against France and Romania, which would guarantee the Italians a spot in the quarter finals.

"We now need to think about the next two games and concentrate on them," said Italian coach Roberto Donadoni.

"The nice thing is that we are now playing against Romania and that will give us a chance to show our true worth. We just have to get the three points against them."

Poland loses captain

Poland's woes following Monday's 2-0 defeat by Germany were compounded by the news that captain Maciej Zurawski is out for the remaining matches of the group stage.

Team doctors said on Monday that Zurawski sustained a thigh muscle injury in the first half of the game in Klagenfurt. He was replaced at half-time.

Zurawski will miss the next games against Austria and Croatia which makes the Polish task even more difficult to advance to the knockout stages.

There was better news for Greece coach Otto Rehhagel with the news that the German will have a full squad to pick from for the defending champions' Group D clash Tuesday with Sweden in Salzburg.

UEFA have confirmed that there will be no extra security for Wednesday's tie between Switzerland and Turkey.

The two sides last met in the return leg of a World Cup qualifying playoff in November 2005 when players and officials from both teams engaged in a post-match punch-up.

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